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Making Windows 11 the most inclusively designed version of Windows yet

Earlier in the year my colleague Jeff Petty shared with you the accessibility improvements and features that were coming to Windows 11. Now that the day is here, I wanted to give you a peek behind the curtain at our accessibility journey and how our team made Windows 11 the most inclusively designed version of Windows yet.   Our ambition: Beyond possible, efficient, and yes, delightful  It all starts with…

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Earlier in the year my colleague Jeff Petty shared with you the accessibility improvements and features that were coming to Windows 11. Now that the day is here, I wanted to give you a peek behind the curtain at our accessibility journey and how our team made Windows 11 the most inclusively designed version of Windows yet.  

Our ambition: Beyond possible, efficient, and yes, delightful 

It all starts with our ambition: Here in the Windows team, we aspire to create efficient, fun and delightful experiences for people with disabilities and without. We root our ambition in the principles of inclusive design, which celebrates and draws inspiration from people with different abilities, needs and preferences. Within Windows 11, this commitment led to a host of innovations – but I’ll focus on just three here:   

  • Reimagining what contrast themes could look like 
  • Rethinking Windows sounds to make them calmer and more informative 
  • Reframing our Ease of Access settings explicitly as Accessibility  

Inclusion in both function and form 

High Contrast themes in Windows 10 were designed to provide maximum differentiation between text, backgrounds and elements on the screen for people with low vision and light sensitivity. And they did that – maybe a little too well. We heard from our customers that these themes created an othering experience; that they were too blunt a tool. They needed contrast – but not that much contrast. And hey, couldn’t they be a little nicer to look at, too? It was clear that a more holistic approach was needed. So we brought together people across an array of disciplines within Microsoft to re-focus the design process not on ticking off boxes on a compliance checklist. Instead, we were committed to improving the way that people with low vision experience Windows 11 to have a smoother and more positive user experience with the new contrast themes. People with vision disabilities were included in our design process from the start, helping drive and guide the color contrast designs by providing their expert feedback and sharing their lived experience. We gathered customer feedback on multiple color combination prototypes, and in each iteration found new items to improve. And the result? Windows 11 includes four new contrast themes that not only provide a range of options for making Windows more accessible and easier to see – they make it more beautiful, too. 

Nothing about us without us – from the start 

One key change we made while designing Windows 11 was to shift our engagement with customer feedback to an earlier point in the design process. We have traditionally started engaging with the disability community at the point where we have a feature users can try. For Windows 11, we wanted to involve the community from day one. One of the features most influenced by this early feedback is the re-envisioned set of Windows 11 sounds. Through our customer listening systems, we heard from deaf and hard of hearing customers who found the existing sounds “aggressive,” leading them to mute their PC altogether. At the same time, we heard from people who are blind that the startup chime in particular was crucial as a way of letting them know that the computer was on, so they did not have to guess when they could start interacting with their PC. Balancing these different sets of initial feedback along with the goal of creating a calm Windows experience, the team began to explore a new set of Windows sounds. As soon as we had a set of sounds we thought had potential, we re-engaged our customers with vision and hearing impairments. Based on their feedback, we determined that the sounds needed to traverse the entire 250 – 8000 Hz range in order to be audible to people who are hard of hearing, and that the startup sound would be most helpful if it played when the lock screen was displayed so that blind users would know when to enter their login information. In the end, the team delivered not only a new Windows startup sound that lets everyone know their PC is ready at just the right time, but a set of calm, informative sounds that can be heard by a broader set of our users.  

Making Accessibility easier to find for everyone 

Great accessibility features can only take you so far if people can’t find them. The continual feedback cycle of inclusive design influenced this aspect of Windows 11 as well, in the reframing of “Ease of Access” as “Accessibility” within the Settings pane. In prior versions of Windows, the team had chosen the phrase “Ease of Access” to try to represent the fullness of the accessibility space – not only permanent disabilities, but temporary and situational ones as well. However, when we engaged with our users, we learned that no one really knew what it meant! Some people even told us that they thought that “Ease of Access” sounded more like where they would find options to connect to the internet. Hearing this feedback, the team knew that it was time for a change. We didn’t want to lose sight of the original goal of honoring and embracing the fullness of the disability spectrum with the new design – and at the same time we wanted to make certain that individuals looking for assistive features built into Windows would know where to look. The team got to work, engaged our writing and icon design team, and tested close to a dozen different icon and name combinations with the goal of finding that inclusive and clear set. In the end, “Accessibility” was what customers expected to find, and the human figure icon stood out as a great way to celebrate the fullness of human abilities.  

Join us on the journey 

Windows 11 marks a significant milestone in our efforts to integrate accessibility and inclusive design throughout both our products and our culture – and I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helped us on our way by giving us the gift of feedback. We know there are more milestones yet to come, and we still need your help. So join us by trying Windows 11 and giving us your feedback to help create better experiences for each of us. Just press the Windows logo key + F to launch the Feedback hub and share what’s on your mind. 

Finally, if you are a customer with a disability and need technical assistance with Windows or any other Microsoft product, please reach out to the Disability Answer Desk via phone, chat or ASL (via videophone). Please contact us, we are always happy to help. 

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Blooming Tree brings daily dose of gems to Monster Legends players

Players of Monster Legends can take advantage of a new feature to grow their monster collection and gain other rewards by coming back to the game daily. Look for the new Blooming Tree in the game’s shop, then purchase it to activate the Bloom and get your instant gems reward. Then return the next day…

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Players of Monster Legends can take advantage of a new feature to grow their monster collection and gain other rewards by coming back to the game daily.

Look for the new Blooming Tree in the game’s shop, then purchase it to activate the Bloom and get your instant gems reward. Then return the next day to collect your daily dose of gems, and keep coming back until the last day of blooming. Gems Bloom is active for 30 days after the purchase.

Also, players can now participate in the last event of the season: the Bounty Hunt. From Aug. 12 to Aug. 19, flip tiles to find the fugitive monster and defeat it. The more points you get in this event, the more leagues you will climb. Great rewards await players, especially at higher leagues: the new monster Goliathess is one of them.

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Microsoft is a Leader in The Forrester Wave: CRM Suites, Q3 2022

We are honored to announce that Microsoft Dynamics 365 was identified as a Leader in The Forrester WaveTM: CRM Suites, Q3 2022. A few weeks ago, during his Microsoft Inspire keynote, Satya Nadella reminded us of the distinct value that Microsoft provides to organizations by leading the way in digital transformation and supercharging their systems…

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We are honored to announce that Microsoft Dynamics 365 was identified as a Leader in The Forrester WaveTM: CRM Suites, Q3 2022.

A few weeks ago, during his Microsoft Inspire keynote, Satya Nadella reminded us of the distinct value that Microsoft provides to organizations by leading the way in digital transformation and supercharging their systems of record. “Dynamics 365 is purpose-built for this new world of business process. Our intelligent business applications connect data, process, and teams, ushering in a new era of hyper connected business and offering unparalleled value.” And over this past year we have been proud to see our customers take Dynamics 365 and show that there are really no limits to what can be done when you unite data silos with industry-leading AI and integrate collaboration tools throughout.

From the Campari Group’s ability to deploy bespoke personalization to their event attendees with real-time customer journey orchestration, to Dextra Group’s saving a whopping 60 percent on their customer relationship management (CRM) cost while also increasing seller productivity and lead quality, and to the city of Richmond, Virginia transformation of their non-emergency case management capabilities to deliver omnichannel engagement for improved efficiency and also becoming benchmark for how governments nationwide can utilize digital tools to better serve their communities.

What makes our CRM and connected products stand out for our customers? Here are seven key insights we have heard over the past year.

  1. Dynamics 365 provides an end-to-end, full-funnel solution. Dynamics 365 is the only portfolio of intelligent business applications that accelerates revenue outcomes by transforming selling experiences with a single intelligent, digital, customizable solution.
  2. Robust AI insights at your fingertips. Dynamics 365 enables everyone, across every team, to make better and more impactful decisions by converting data into insights with the intelligence of Microsoft AI allowing teams to be more efficient and productive.
  3. Breakdown the barriers between people. We offer the leading workplace collaboration, video conferencing, and meeting software in the world with Microsoft Teams, which can connect seamlessly with our out-of-the-box CRM or be personalized to fit an organization’s needs with custom features.
  4. Personalize every experience. Dynamics 365 Marketing assists companies in more deeply understanding their customers and drives intent with AI-powered insights to deliver connected experiences—all the way from acquisition to retention.
  5. Streamlined, proactive, scalable sales. Dynamics 365 helps sales teams uplevel forecasting and revenue operations with built-in AI and machine learning and enhance seller performance with recommended next best actions, productivity tools, and real-time coaching.
  6. Breakthrough service capabilities. Dynamics 365 Customer Service helps organizations meet the evolving needs of every customer across every channel and increases customer satisfaction, while boosting frontline employee productivity regardless of location.
  7. Low-code transformation. With Microsoft Power Platform, organizations can provide anyone with the ability for low-code transformation with low-code, intuitive, extensible tools that seamlessly connect to Dynamics 365. 

It’s an honor for us that so many organizations look to us for help modernizing sales, marketing, and service operations. As Forrester states in its report, “Microsoft’s strong vision, the breadth of its suite, and its partner ecosystem and industry solutions drive its 40% year-over-year growth, especially in industries such as financial services, healthcare, and retail.” We genuinely believe that with connected data, underpinned by industry leading AI and insights, there are no limits to what organizations can do. From upleveling employee experiences, to improving team productivity, and building deeper relationships with customers. It is all available with Dynamics 365.

Learn more

To learn more about how Microsoft compared with the other eight selected providers, please navigate to The Forrester WaveTM: CRM Suites, Q3 2022 website and get your copy.

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Exchange Online Basic authentication is going away: What you need to know

Effective October 1, 2022, you will no longer be able to use Basic authentication to connect to Microsoft Exchange Online. If your organization uses server-side synchronization or the deprecated Dynamics 365 Email Router, you should find out now whether you need to prepare for the change. How will removing Exchange Online Basic authentication affect Dynamics…

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Effective October 1, 2022, you will no longer be able to use Basic authentication to connect to Microsoft Exchange Online. If your organization uses server-side synchronization or the deprecated Dynamics 365 Email Router, you should find out now whether you need to prepare for the change.

How will removing Exchange Online Basic authentication affect Dynamics 365 and Power Apps?

After October 1, 2022, any connection to Exchange Online that uses server-side sync or the Dynamics 365 Email Router with Basic authentication (username and password) will quit working. Dynamics 365 mailboxes that use these connections will no longer be able to:

  • Send email from Dynamics 365 through Exchange Online
  • Retrieve email from Exchange Online
  • Synchronize appointments, contacts, or tasks between Dynamics 365 and Exchange Online

This change doesn’t affect connections that use Modern authentication (OAuth 2.0 token-based authorization).

How can I find out if I need to prepare?

If your company is using server-side sync or the Email Router to connect to Exchange Online using a username and password, you need to act. There are a couple of ways to find out whether your organization is affected and what you need to do if it is.

Review your Message Center Posts (recommended)

The fastest and most reliable way to know if you need to prepare and what to do is to look in the Microsoft 365 Message Center. (You must have admin rights to sign in to the Message Center.) The Exchange Online team has been sending monthly Message Center posts to all affected customers with the following title format: “Basic Authentication – Monthly Usage Report – 2022.”

If your organization is using server-side sync with Basic authentication, you may also have received Message Center posts from the Dynamics 365 or Power Apps services. Look for posts with the following title: “Impact due to Exchange Online disabling Basic Authentication.”

The posts provide detailed information about the change and actions you need to take before October 1.

Check your Dynamics 365 email settings

If you don’t find any posts in the Message Center, read our guide on how to check whether your organization is affected and if it is, what you need to do before October 1.

Learn more

You can find more information, including FAQs, in the documentation:

Use of Basic authentication with Exchange Online | Microsoft Docs

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