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Microsoft Monday: New Windows 10 Features Coming, Skype Encryption, Gates Foundation Update

“Microsoft Monday" is a weekly column that focuses on all things Microsoft. This week, Microsoft Monday includes details about an update about the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, new features coming to Windows 10, the return of Bitcoin payment support and much more!

Microsoft Is Testing An Improved Quiet Hours Feature In Windows 10

According to eWeek, Microsoft is now testing a feature that is similar to Do Not Disturb on mobile devices. The already existing Quiet Hours feature silences notifications currently just supports on or off. But in the preview build 17074, there is an improvement in the Quiet Hours feature.

In Windows 10 Insider preview build 17074, there is a setting that automatically enables Quiet Hours when users mirror a display. This feature is especially useful for users that are giving a presentation in front of a group of colleagues.

And the Quiet Hours feature will automatically be enabled if a full-screen DirectX game is running to prevent gaming sessions from being interrupted.

Users can also designate a schedule for Quiet Hours. And Cortana can be used to turn the Quiet Hours feature on or off when the user arrives at home.

The Windows 10 Insider preview build also contains several Microsoft Edge improvements as well as a redesigned Hub interface. The Hub pane highlights your reading list, bookmarks, history, downloads and e-books. And Edge can automatically fill out credit card information since it can store the information (except for the CVV number for security purposes).

Updates About The Bill And Melinda Gates Foundation

At the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, Microsoft Co-Founder and Technology Advisor Bill Gates gave a candid interview about his philanthropic initiatives with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has invested billions of dollars in vaccinations to cure deadly diseases around the world like malaria and HIV. Investments made by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation helped cut child mortality rates and prevented people living in poverty from dying out of hunger.

According to Business Insider, Gates said that his investments in philanthropy tend to be based on “low-hanging fruit” that few others have addressed. "If you're smart," said Gates in a discussion with moderator Dr. Sanjay Gupta about how he finds potential philanthropic investments via Business Insider. “You find the thing that is risky and hopefully before you do a phase I or phase II test.”

One of the biggest examples for this is malaria. Gates told Dr. Gupta that the current process for finding malaria treatments is by conducting in-house human challenge trials. People volunteer to take a pill for alleviating malaria and then allow themselves to get bitten by an infected mosquito. "If we can get the latest tools involved we can have a good chance at success,"  Gates pointed out via Business Insider. To handle malaria around the world, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is working with the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative and the Medicines for Malaria Venture. And the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has also invested in several companies that are focused on eradicating malaria and other diseases that are prevalent in developing companies such as CureVac and Moderna. The good news is that malaria death rates in Africa have dropped by 57% since 2000. Gates said that this was “one of the greatest success stories in the history of global health.”

In the keynote, Gates also said that he is confident the world will develop cancer therapies that can “control all infectious diseases.” Gates pointed out that this would be a “huge victory for humanity.” Immunocore, a company that developed technology which can stimulate the immune system of a patient, is an example of a company focused on this initiative that received funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Immunocore’s technology utilizes the immune cells within the bodies of every patient (known as T-cells). The T-cells are essentially reprogrammed and personalized to fight cancer within each patient. “Initially, Immunocore's 'T-cell receptor' technology targeted cancers, but it could also be applied against infectious diseases,” added Gates via Business Insider.

In related news, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is paying off a $76 million loan that Nigeria borrowed from Japan to help fight against polio. Nigeria took the loan in 2014 and the repayments were due to begin this year. A spokesperson with the Gates Foundation confirmed the arrangement to Quartz.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said it agreed to repay the loan after Nigeria met the condition of achieving over 80% vaccination coverage in at least one round each year in high risk areas across 80% of local government areas. The loan will be repaid over a period of 20 years.

Fortunately, there were no new polio cases recorded in 2017. Back in 2012, Nigeria accounted for over half of all polio cases worldwide.

Microsoft Rolls Out Xbox One Update For Insiders With A Do Not Disturb Mode And Several Other Features

Microsoft has released an update for Xbox One testers that has several new exciting features. For example, there is an option that allows users to mute notifications while they are playing a game or watching TV shows/movies (known as Do Not Disturb mode) — which will also show an away status so your friends will know you are not available for messages or party chat invites.

Plus Microsoft is adding mini-game hubs to the Xbox One dashboard. This makes it easier to access content within a game, see who else is currently playing and check out achievements. There is also a "next achievements" feature that shows an organized list of upcoming achievements.

And Microsoft added display customization options. You can make the dashboard white during the day and darker in the evening. And there are new automatic shutdown options that can be expanded to have consoles automatically turned off after two, three, four and five hours instead of only one or six.

Currently, these features will show up for alpha ring testers first and it should be rolled out to all console owners after that. And additional experimental features are being provided to a group of testers.

Microsoft Windows 10 Fall Creators Update Becomes Fastest Windows 10 Version To Hit 100 Million Devices

Last week, Microsoft announced that Windows 10 Fall Creators Update (version 1709) was the fastest Windows 10 version to hit 100 million devices. The Windows 10 Fall Creators Update is the fourth update to Windows 10 after the November Update, Anniversary Update and the Creators Update. Microsoft plans to release two major versions of Windows 10 per year as of right now.

It’s also worth pointing out that the Fall Creators Update is “fully available for all compatible devices running Windows 10 worldwide.” The Fall Creators Update had launched on October 17, but it took about three months of testing and bug fixing to ensure it works well on compatible devices.

“When a new feature update is released, we begin by targeting a select set of devices that we believe will have the best update experience based on device characteristics and testing done by us and our device partners,” said Microsoft’s Director of Program Management of the Windows Servicing and Delivery in the blog post. “We then monitor feedback for issues around application and device compatibility and make adjustments along the way, if necessary.  Actively listening for and responding to issues as they emerge helps us confidently expand the release to additional devices while maintaining a quality experience.”

Later this week, devices with Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise editions installed are expected to be automatically updated to the Fall Creators Update via Windows Update as well.

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