A Microsoft initiative to give disadvantaged youths a leg up on technology should be reaching children in Polk County sometime before the end of the year.
Microsoft's YouthSpark is a global initiative to bridge the digital divide that blocks access to the sort of technology available to children of means.
The corporation intends to reach thousands of needy children with help from the Children's Home Society of Florida, a statewide nonprofit serving some 2,000 children in Polk and 90,000 children and families throughout the state.
CHS received a $7.3 million Microsoft grant late last year to spread the YouthSpark initiative, beginning with a pilot program in the Daytona Beach area.
In coming months it will spread throughout the rest of the state, reaching primarily children in foster care as well as those caught up in the juvenile justice system.
The goal is to give these and many other disadvantaged children access to computers and current software programs, as well as adult mentors who double as technology coaches, said CHS spokeswoman Allison Buchanan.
"They know how to play video games and search online but they don't know how to use technology in an education format or to use for careers," she said.
Through YouthSpark, children will learn a variety of skills from making PowerPoint presentations to filling out online job applications.
"Working with Microsoft, we are developing solutions to child welfare challenges that were previously out of reach," said Michael Shaver, CEO of CHS of Florida, in a news release.
Giving children from poverty-stricken households such skills is an ideal way to boost their chances for success in college and beyond, said Eliza McCall-Horne, executive director of CHS programs in the greater Lakeland division, which oversees services in Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties.
Locally, the YouthSpark initiative will provide access to a number of CHS offices, including the Lakeland headquarters at 1010 E. Rose St. Children will be given opportunities to use computer labs, and they will be paired with mentors.
CHS soon will mount a fundraising drive to supplement the Microsoft grant, raising money for one or more mobile computer labs, taking services directly into poorer neighborhoods.
"Although the $7.3 million (grant) is going to help, we'll have to actually go out and do some fundraising to make this a reality in our division," McCall-Horne said. "We'll be equipped to bring this lab wherever we need to go."
[ Eric Pera can be reached at email@example.com or 863-802-7528. ]
Several leaks and rumours have indicated Microsoft will launch two high-end smartphones this year, namely the Lumia 950 (codenamed Talkman) and Lumia 950 XL (codenamed Cityman). A new report tips that the smartphones will launch at IFA in September, go on sale in October or November, and sport biometric authentication in the form of an infrared iris scanner. The specifications of the handsets have also been tipped.
Notably, the anticipated Talkman and Cityman smartphones were previously tipped to be called the Lumia 940 and Lumia 940 XL, however, the most recent report indicates Microsoft is planning to skip the x40 naming convention and move to x50, but still deciding which model name to go with.
The feature to log in with facial recognition via the iris scanner is said to be a part of Windows Hello feature in Windows 10. Besides the iris scanning technology, the Redmond-based tech giant is also tipped to bring its Surface Pen technology to the Lumia 950 XL.
According to Windows Central, the larger-sized Lumia 950 XL would additionally support a new smart cover with circular cut out, letting users easily access notifications. The website has also shown the purported rendered images (seen above) of Lumia 950 XL. While the actual device seems far from being launched, The Verge claims to have independently confirmed the render images of the handset to be almost accurate and close to what the device looks like. It has been further added that US carrier Verizon would not be selling the Lumia 950 or Lumia 950 XL.
As for the specifications, the Microsoft Lumia 950 is said to feature a 5.2-inch QHD (1440x2560 pixel) Oled display; a 64-bit hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 SoC; 3GB RAM, a 20-megapixel PureView rear camera; a 5-megapixel wide-angle front-facing camera; 32GB of inbuilt storage expandable via microSD card; an iris scanner (infrared) for Windows Hello; USB Type-C; Qi wireless charging tech, and 3000mAh removable battery.
The Microsoft Lumia 950 XL would feature the same set of specifications except a 5.7-inch screen size with the same resolution; a 64-bit octa-core Snapdragon 810 SoC, a triple-LED flash for rear camera; a 3300mAh removable battery; a 1-mm silver ring inside the circumference of the black camera pod, and aluminum side buttons. Both handsets would be available in Matte White or Black Polycarbonate body.
While the launch date of the devices are not yet known, Microsoft last week confirmed that the company will announce "premium Lumias designed for Windows 10" soon. Additionally, the Redmond giant has confirmed that it will be announcing several devices at this year's IFA.
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With Windows licensing revenue falling steadily (OEM licensing was down 22% this quarter while overall revenue in the segment fell by 4%), Microsoft is going to be under pressure to create new methods of extracting value from that market. The company has already said that Windows 10 will be free for its lifetime, and I’m not suggesting anything different, but going forward, I doubt MS simply gives up on Windows revenue. One potential replacement would be revenue from the Windows Store, but that’s dependent on the Windows Store actually offering software that anyone would want to buy.
Returning to the Windows 10 RTM issue, I’d be surprised if the industry stopped using the term. RTM is an understood point at which a product is shipped for installation on a system. Like “gone gold,” it captures a particular moment and is useful for denoting that yes, the OS has been deemed ready and shipped out. Just as motherboard companies still make reference to the BIOS as opposed to the UEFI, it’s not because the term remains accurate — it’s because the term is known and understood by the target audience.
One potential reason for why Microsoft wants to move away from single-number versioning is that it now updates applications separately from the core OS. You might download a new version of Mail or Photos, thereby changing your experience with the device, but still be on the same version number. In the past, Microsoft rarely did this — you had whichever features were installed on your Service Pack or original installation, and the company only occasionally released updates for application-level functionality.
As the Windows 10 ship draws close to port, we’ve seen confirmation from multiple sources that yes, Windows 10 Build 10240 is the RTM version that was sent out to OEMs for installation. The problem with this classification, however, is that Microsoft now refuses to use it. When Mark Hachman of PCWorld reached out to the company for confirmation, he was met with the following: “This build is the latest Windows 10 build, and we’ll continue to update Windows 10 code as we head toward launch and beyond,” a Microsoft spokeswoman said in a statement. “We are embracing a new way to deliver Windows.”
Far be it for me to contradict Microsoft, but that doesn’t seem to be what’s actually happening. Apple and Google both distribute OS updates over-the-air (well, carriers do). They still launch cohesive branded products around particular codenames. Microsoft is embracing the concept of Windows-as-a-service, but not because other companies that distribute similar products have done so. Instead, this push seems to be more about driving consumers to accept the idea of an ever-evolving, auto-updating software package.
Microsoft has no plans to charge for Windows 10 as a subscription service, but it’s hard to see the company not going down that path at some point. It continues to gain subscribers for its Office 365 system, despite the fact that Office 365 is a terrible value for any single user, costing you as much in one year as the Home version of office typically costs, period (and Office can easily be used on a 5-7 year cycle). The company wouldn’t even need to charge much — $5 per month would likely beat the revenue it got per-user over the long term, especially when combined with OEM sales for new notebook installations.
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