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What is USB Restricted Mode in macOS Ventura, and why do you want it?

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Once upon a time, one attack vector for industrial sabotage consisted of exfiltrating data from Macs using a standard-issue USB storage card. Researchers have also shown that it’s possible to hijack computers with malware-infested cables. It’s a jungle out there, so Apple has toughened up (Apple Silicon) Mac protection with USB Restricted Mode.

What is USB Restricted Mode?

Beginning with macOS Ventura, the new layer of protection comes in the form of USB Restricted mode, which should provide a little reassurance to enterprise IT and is enabled by default.

An Apple developer note explains this protection: “On portable Mac computers with Apple silicon, new USB and Thunderbolt accessories require user approval before the accessory can communicate with macOS for connections wired directly to the USB-C port.”

If this sounds familiar, it is. It already exists on iPads and iPhones. It’s worth noting that support for mass storage devices on both those platforms always lagged the Mac, and it’s only since iOS 13 that you have been able to use external storage with those.

On the Mac, things have kind of worked in the other direction. Macs have always supported external storage media, but Apple has now made this more secure — though Apple Silicon systems.

How USB Restricted Mode works

The idea is that when a new USB or Thunderbolt device is connected to the Mac, the user will be asked to approve the connection. If a Mac is locked the end user must unlock it before the computer will recognize the accessory. This uses the new-to-the-Mac allowUSBRestrictedMode restriction. The protection is initiated when your Mac has been left locked for an hour or so.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

What Apple’s Freeform collaboration app offers remote teams

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Apple’s Freeform collaboration tool, due out “later this year,” is designed to give remote teams a limitless virtual whiteboard within which they can work together.

We don’t know much about it beyond what was announced at WWDC 2022, but we do know not to expect it to appear in the first iterations of the Mac, iPad, and iPhone operating systems when they ship in fall. (Given recent claims the release of iPad OS 16 has been delayed pending changes in Stage Manager, it seems reasonable to think Freeform may also be delayed.)

It’s a tool that integrates nicely with Apple’s other collaborative enhancements in the upcoming OS releases, particularly Stage Manager and Continuity Camera.

What Apple has told us

“Freeform, a powerful new collaboration app with a flexible canvas gives users the ability to see, share and collaborate all in one place without worrying about layouts and page sizes, and with full support for Apple Pencil,” the company said in a statement.

Speaking at WWDC, Apple Senior Engineer Elizabeth Reid explained Apple’s Freeform promise: “Now you can be on a FaceTime call,” she said, “and with a tap you’re all collaborating live on a Freeform board. You can add almost anything to a board. It’s perfect for brainstorming sessions, jotting down notes, sharing files, or even creating diagrams with others.

“As others begin adding their thoughts, you can see their live cursor showing you right where they’re working,” she said. “And if someone is in another part of Freeform, you can just tap jump straight to where they are on the board.”

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

10 out-of-sight Google Pixel settings worth surfacing

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With some phones, the hardware itself is the primary point of appeal.

Google’s self-made Pixel devices take a decidedly different approach. Sure, the shells around the phones are as shiny and purty as any of ’em — but it’s what’s inside that really sets the Pixel apart.

Plain and simple, Google’s Android software is in a league of its own. And aside from the thoughtfully designed, platform-consistent interface and the lack of obnoxious and often over-the-top experience-harming additions so many other manufacturers love to lard into their Android environments, Pixels are packed with genuinely useful features that tap into Google’s high-tech smarts and make your life easier in some small but significant ways.

But in some cases, it’s up to you to find the features and activate ’em before they’ll be available.

So today, we’ll pick up where we left off with our previous Pixel settings collection and explore a slew of spectacular buried Pixel settings worth surfacing. Find ’em, flip ’em on, and then come check out my free Pixel Academy e-course to uncover even more Googley magic lurking within your favorite Pixel phone.

Google Pixel setting No. 1: Your smart storage sorcerer

Phone-makers love to push the narrative that you need to drop more dollars on devices with oversized amounts of local space — but for most of us, the reality is that local phone storage is little more than a temporary holding vessel for stuff that’s soon to be backed up, synced, and available anywhere, anyway.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 Gboard settings that’ll supercharge your Android typing

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If there’s one place where saved seconds can seriously add up, it’s in your smartphone’s on-screen keyboard.

This doesn’t get nearly enough attention among average tech-totin’ animals, but Android has an awesome advantage over that (cough, cough) other mobile platform when it comes to text input. All it takes is two minutes of trying to type text on an iDevice to see just how much of a good thing we’ve got goin’ (and to make yourself want to gouge your eyes out with the nearest overpriced Apple accessory).

And you know what? While we’ve got no shortage of commendable Android keyboard apps to choose from, Google’s own Gboard keyboard really is the perfect example of how simple, effective, and expandable the Android typing experience can be. Gboard works well right out of the virtual box, and once you start poking around in the mustiest corners of its settings, you’ll uncover some tucked-away treasures that can inject all sorts of seconds-saving sorcery into your Android input process.

So crack those phalanges and prepare for pro-level productivity: We’re diving in deep to Gboard’s least traveled surfaces to take your Android typing experience to dizzying new speeds.

Gboard setting No. 1: Swifter symbol summoning

First and foremost, if you’re anything like most dual-thumbed Android phone owners, you probably waste tons of time hunting for symbols on your Android device’s keyboard — everything from asterisks to at-signs and pluses to parentheses.

Well, my fellow fast-fingered feline, there is a better way.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

Q&A: Computer chip start-up CTO: Our business isn’t boring — or a career dead end

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Semiconductors are in virtually every electronic device that leaves a factory today, and the US government has planted a flag in the ground as the burgeoning chip industry has become the future of technology manufacturing.

Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, Amazon, and others have been lobbying the US government to increase domestic chip production, citing problems overseas that have hampered hardware production. In fact, a US Commerce Department report in January said the chip shortage was so bad that at one point in 2021 there was just a five-day supply worldwide — with no sign the situation would improve anytime soon. 

Late last month, Congress passed the CHIPS Act, a $77 billion piece of legislation that earmarks subsidies and tax credits for companies designing and manufacturing  seminconductors on American shores.

Several Asian nations, including China, South Korea, and Taiwan, as well as the European Union, have also recognized the urgency in laying claim to the vast manufacturing opportunities in the semiconductor industry. They’ve injected billions in public and private funding to boost chip manufacturing capacity and development.

The tech industry in general, however, faces arguably its greatest dearth of available talent in history, with unemployment rates hovering around 1.7% — less than half that of the overall unemployment rate, according to CompTIA, a nonprofit association for the IT industry.

At the same time, semiconductor behemoths such as Intel, Samsung and TSMC are in the middle of building new chip fabrication plants in the US as part of a massive re-shoring effort. But there’s far too little tech talent to fill the needs.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

Parallels — the easiest way to run Windows on any Mac

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If you work in a multi-platform environment and need a solution that lets you run a licensed version of Windows on your M1 Mac, the newly updated Parallels Desktop 18 has you covered.

Running Windows on a Mac the easy way

There are lots of improvements in Parallels Desktop for M1 Mac users seeking to run Windows apps, but the biggest one seems to be the ability to download, install, and configure Windows 11 on your Mac in a virtual Parallels environment in one click. The company introduced support for Windows on ARM chips in Parallels Desktop 17, but installation of the OS is now built in and you no longer need to use the Insider preview version of Windows 11 for ARM.

I’ve spent a very short time using the solution, and it is notable how simple it has become to install a functioning version of Windows on my M1 Mac. Installation was relatively straightforward, and performance within the virtual machine seems solid.

This does exactly what it promises to do, making it possible to quickly install and run various operating systems on your Mac. When used in Coherence mode, you get the added thrill of no longer needing to even think about which OS is running the software you use. It works quickly and well.

What has improved in Parallels Desktop 18?

The Corel-owned software company has made significant improvements in performance. It claims that it’s now possible to run more than 200,000 Windows apps and games on your Mac; it has made the software compatible with Apple’s Pro Motion display and (for gamers) made it possible to run Windows games with a connected game controller.

It’s all about performance of Windows in Parallels. When run on an M1 Ultra chip such as inside the Mac Studio you’ll experience up to 96% faster performance than you got with Parallels Desktop 17. It continues to be possible to argue that Windows run in Parallels on a Mac may be faster than on a PC, and no doubt someone will be testing just that.

The company also says 99.99% of existing Intel-based PC applications will run happily on Apple Silicon macs using Parallels.

The company promises macOS Ventura support from day one. This support should extend to Stage Manager on the Mac, so you’ll see your virtual Windows or Linux environment(s) appear in the left-hand view when using Coherence mode. Additional improvements include macOS Ventura support, improved compatibility with x86 applications (including important applications such as AutoCAD) and improved USB 3.0 support for video devices.

Significant enhancements for business and pro users

Software developers will want to use the network conditioner tools to help them set up their network in the Pro edition. They can also use the enhanced plug-in for Visual Studio to analyze application performance.

The Business Edition, however, adds valuable enhancements developed to better support Windows on Macs in remote workgroups. These include:

  • Single Sign On (SSO/SAML) authentication for employees to sign in and activate Parallels Desktop with a corporate account.
  • The ability by admins to deploy, provision, or transfer a Windows 11 virtual machine across employees’ Mac computers.
  • The ability to manage Parallels customer experience program participation centrally in Parallels My Account.

What this means is that it is much easier to maintain tight control of the Windows licenses across remote device fleets. These improvements also make for a better employee on-boarding experience, as it seems possible to ship a new Mac to a remote worker and have the entire process of set-up and installation (including of Windows) managed using a single password thanks to Parallels and your chosen MDM provider.

Pricing, availability, support

Used with an Intel Mac, Parallels lets users create virtual machines to run Ubuntu, Fedora, CentOS, Debian GNU, Mint, Red Hat, Suse Linux, and Kali. It lets Mac users install virtual versions of every iteration of OS X back to Lion. And supports Windows 2000 to Windows 11

On Apple Silicon, support is a little more limited, primarily due to the need for ARM support. If you run an M-series mac you can support Windows 11, Windows 10, macOS Ventura and Monterey, Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian GBU, RHEL, CentOS, and Kali.

Parallels Desktop 18 for Mac costs $99.99 per year, but is also available as a perpetual license for $129.99. The Pro edition costs $119.99 per year while the Business Edition will cost $149.99 per year. You can upgrade from any previous version of Parallels Desktop to version 18 for Mac for $69.99, or to the Pro edition for $69.99 per year.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2022 Softwaretoolapps, Inc.

Big clouds aren’t always the right fit for small businesses

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Usually, when it comes to a business cloud decision, you’re going to go with one of the big players: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Services, IBM Cloud, or Microsoft Azure. You know their names.

But the bigger clouds aren’t always suitable for everyone or every job.

For example, with hyperscale clouds, it’s effortless to get locked into a particular cloud.

Say you’re working with serverless computing. If AWS is your provider, you’re set with either Lambda or Fargate. But, say you think you can pay less money and get more bang for the buck using Google Cloud Run. Guess what? You’ll need to spend a lot of time, money and effort porting your Lambda application stack to Cloud Run or vice versa.

Complex cloud applications are not — I repeat — not portable.

Or let’s say your AWS serverless guru takes a job elsewhere. Good luck finding another serverless expert. They’re few and hard to find. 

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

Jamf’s Q2 earnings show customers up 34%, devices up 22.4%

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Apple-in-the-enterprise MDM and security solutions provider Jamf announced its quarterly results yesterday, confirming consolidation in the Apple moble device management market and shedding a little light on the scale of Apple enterprise deployments.

Customers up 34%, devices up 22.4%

What’s the top line data from the company’s results? We know Apple use in professional scenarios (enterprise, medical, education) continues to grow, and this seems to be reflected by the Jamf results. It disclosed second quarter revenue growth of 34% (year over year) to $115.6 million for GAAP gross profit of $86.2 million, with increases in subscription revenues and good growth for its recently introduced security solutions portfolio.

Perhaps the biggest evidence of Apple’s surging presence is that Jamf now claims to manage 28.4 million devices across 67,000 customers, up 5.2 million devices and 17,000 customers from a year ago.

That customer figure suggests an increase of 34% in terms of Jamf users and a 22.4% increase in the scale of deployments of supported devices. (The latter include Macs, iPhones, iPads, and Apple TV.)

“Increasing demand for Jamf’s broad line of security solutions combined with a strengthening replacement market for core management solutions show that Jamf’s unique approach to support and extend Apple innovations the same day they are made available is proving to be more valuable than ever to existing and new customers,” Jamf CEO Dean Hager said in a statement.

Industry consolidation continues

Speaking during the company’s fiscal call, Jamf shed a little light on its results. It noted that customers are increasingly moving to replace alternative MDM services with those provided by Jamf. It said that this reflects the need to keep pace with Apple’s new systems as they ship, and also noted that consolidation across the industry continues.

“The majority of the software providers that were considered leaders in the enterprise mobility management market just five years ago  have been consolidated into other organizations, leading to additional challenges for their engineering teams to continue innovating at the pace of Apple,” Hager said during the analyst call.

Hager claimed that Jamf products replaced over 35,000 seats of one leading EMM solution across “just four customer wins.” Hager also pointed to rapid adoption of the company’s widening tranche of enterprise and education security products.

Enterprises still moving to Apple

The company also shared insights into some of the larger Apple migrations it had experienced, including Red Bull, which has now consolidated its Mac and iOS fleet to Jamf Pro. These announcements revealed the scale and extent to which Apple’s solutions are being adopted across business.

Hager cited a multinational food distributor that now has 13,000 Apple products in use; a behavioral therapy group that has 6,000 in place; and a 15,000-seat distribution across “a prominent ecommerce and online retail company.” Jamf has also been adopted across one of Florida’s largest hospital networks, the company said.

Hager mentioned a series of other deployments, but the main take away should be that Apple’s kit is now seeing front-line use across a diverse number of industries. Jamf noted this pattern is global, confirming it has secured some big Apple-based clients internationally.

“Our international markets have continued to grow faster outside the US,” the company said.

But supply chain challenges remain

However, for all the wins, Jamf also hinted that the Mac and iPad supply problems Apple recently acknowledged may be decelerating the rate of Apple enterprise adoption.

Perhaps one of the most important revelations for Apple watchers was confirmation that hardware supply issues delayed projects. We had anticipated this may be a problem in the quarter, but the revelation hints that hardware supply scarcity may be impacting enterprises seeking to broaden their Apple deployment.

[Also read: Jamf CIO: Apple will be the No. 1 enterprise endpoint by 2030]

The results also confirmed a sense of caution across business markets.

The company said it was seeing elongated sales cycles, suggesting customers are attempting to restrain unnecessary spending. At the same time, it also pointed out that in terms of budget adjustments, what it provides comes at a relatively small cost but delivers an effective ROI for IT management; Jamf seems confident it can hold its own in the prevailing challenging atmosphere.

Why are enterprises adopting Apple?

Hager discussed five critical capabilities prompting companies to move to Apple (and Jamf):

  • The ability to separate personal and private data on apps on user enrollment.
  • Support for Single Sign On.
  • Jamf’s support for zero trust network access.
  • The ability to assign per-app VPN configurations so users don’t need to consider them.
  • Jamf’s self-serve enterprise app store, which helps IT managers and end users assign apps or install the apps they require.

All these capabilities have been revealed as important across the last few years, with the pandemic simply accelerating adoption and increasing need.

You can listen to the financial call here.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2022 Softwaretoolapps, Inc.

The awkward thing about Android 13

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Android 13 may be one of Google’s strangest Android versions yet. And considering the company we’re talking about here, my goodness, that’s really saying something.

Android 13 — currently in the final phase of its beta development and expected to be launched any moment now — is without a doubt one of the most shape-shifting software updates in Android’s history. It’ll completely change the way Android looks, feels, and acts and open the door to a whole new side of growth for the platform.

And yet, at the same time, most average Android-owning animals who get Android 13 on their phones are gonna find themselves befuddled about what the fudd the update even does.

It’s a funny sort of dueling identity — and it’s made even more awkward by the likely twist in timing that’ll accompany it.

Allow me to explain.

The Android 13 duality

Most new Android versions have traditionally been fairly straightforward: You get the software on your device, and you can immediately see what new stuff it introduces into your phone-using experience.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

Is it bad to give employees too many tech options?

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I’ve long believed companies should offer workers a choice in the technology they use in the office and when working remote. Doing so lets employees use what they feel is the best choice of devices for their work, it can help attract and retain staff, it lessens the likelihood workers will go rogue and source their own technology (a.k.a. shadow IT), and it establishes a positive relationship between IT and the rest of an organization.

Companies like IBM and SAP have documented their experiences in moving to an employee-choice model and have declared it a success. But does that mean it would work for every company? And how do you decide which way to go?

The most important question in developing (or expanding) an employee-choice model is determining how much choice to allow. Offer too little and you risk undermining the effort’s benefits. Offer too much and you risk a level of tech anarchy that can be as problematic as unfettered shadow IT. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Every organization has unique culture, requirements/expectations, and management capabilities. An approach that works in a marketing firm would differ from a healthcare provider, and a government agency would need a different approach than a startup.

Options also vary depending on the devices employees use — desktop computing and mobile often require differing approaches, particularly for companies that employ a BYOD program for smartphones.

PCs, Macs, Chromebooks, and other desktops

Most employee-choice programs focus on desktops and laptops. The default choice is typically basic: do you want a Windows PC or a Mac? Most often, the choice only extends to the platform, not specific models (or in the case of PCs, a specific manufacturer). Keeping the focus on just two platforms eases administrative overhead and technical support requirements. It also allows companies to leverage volume purchases from one partner in order to receive bulk discounts.

The rise of Chromebooks in business expands that choice, as does the use of other operating systems such as varying flavors of Linux or specific versions of Windows. Although Windows 11 has been out for some time now, many organizations are still tied to Windows 10 — partly for simplicity of support and partly because many older PCs don’t meet the requirement of Windows 11. 

Monday.com launches new CRM tool

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Cloud-based work management platform Monday.com is branching out into customer relationship management (CRM) software, with the launch of a fully-customizable Monday Sales CRM.

The launch is the first of five job-specific products to be launched by the software company. Together, they will aim to better support teams working across sales, marketing, software development, and project management.

The new CRM platform has been built on Monday’s customizable no-code framework, Work OS, and allows users to manage their sales cycle and unify all customer processes on a single platform.

For example, once a deal is completed, Monday Sales CRM will immediately create a new account to start client onboarding, surface any data related to a specific account, and automatically cross-sync customer data across departments, removing the need for a dedicated account administrator.

In addition to unifying the sales process, Monday Sales CRM also allows users to automate repetitive tasks, track team goals, manage post-sale activities, and fast-track the sales hiring process.

Monday Sales CRM integrates with Gmail and Microsoft Outlook to send, receive and automatically log sent emails and notifies users when a lead opens or replies to an email. The tool also integrates with popular third-party enterprise applications and services, such as Salesforce, Hubspot, Slack, Aircall, Mailchimp, PandaDoc, and Docusign.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

Where SMBs are with the cloud

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As I said the other week, small businesses can still do well by sticking with their own servers. That said, many of them are also moving toward the cloud.

We’re in a time of transition: as the most recent annual Flexera State of the Cloud Report showed, 53% of small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) — those with 1,000 or fewer employees — spend more than $1.2 million annually on the cloud.

That’s a jump from 38% who did so just two years ago.

Flexera predicts that within the next year, 63% of SMB workloads and 62% of SMB data will reside in a public cloud. That’s a significant increase.

Several things are driving the shift.

One you might not think of is the COVID-19 pandemic. However, because the pandemic kept IT staffers out of the office and server rooms, 66% of respondents said cloud usage was higher than they’d initially planned.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 Google Pixel settings you should change this second

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Part of the Pixel’s primary appeal is the phone’s phenomenal software. All Android experiences are not created equal, as anyone who’s spent seven seconds with an out-of-the-box Samsung setup can tell you, and Google’s clean and simple approach to Android is a huge piece of what makes a Pixel so pleasant to use.

Still, while a Pixel may be perfectly peachy from the moment you power it on, Google’s smartphone software is full of hidden features and advanced options that can make your experience even more exceptional.

And whether you’re setting up a shiny new Pixel 6a right now or cradling an older Pixel model in your suspiciously sticky paw, taking the time to think through some of your phone’s most easily overlooked settings can take your Pixel adventure to a whole new level.

So grab whatever Pixel you’ve got, grab yourself a grape soda for good measure, and let’s unearth some of your phone’s greatest Googley secrets. And be sure to come check out my free Pixel Academy e-course to uncover even more advanced intelligence lurking within your favorite Pixel phone when you’re done.

Google Pixel setting No. 1: Your friendly phone-holding genie

Some of the Pixel’s most practical features revolve around the brilliant bits of Googley goodness available on the phone calling front — and yet, most of those elements are off by default and barely emphasized in Google’s marketing. Go figure, eh?

First and foremost is the Pixel’s impossibly useful Hold for Me system, which will automatically recognize when you’re placed on hold on a call and offer to shoulder the burden for you. The system will actually monitor the call on your behalf and then audibly alert you when a real (alleged) human comes back on the line — so you can go about drinking your grape soda and playing your tiddlywinks without having to worry about missing a thing.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 Pixel settings you should change this second

0

Part of the Pixel’s primary appeal is the phone’s phenomenal software. All Android experiences are not created equal, as anyone who’s spent seven seconds with an out-of-the-box Samsung setup can tell you, and Google’s clean and simple approach to Android is a huge piece of what makes a Pixel so pleasant to use.

Still, while a Pixel may be perfectly peachy from the moment you power it on, Google’s smartphone software is full of hidden features and advanced options that can make your experience even more exceptional.

And whether you’re setting up a shiny new Pixel 6a right now or cradling an older Pixel model in your suspiciously sticky paw, taking the time to think through some of your phone’s most easily overlooked settings can take your Pixel adventure to a whole new level.

So grab whatever Pixel you’ve got, grab yourself a grape soda for good measure, and let’s unearth some of your phone’s greatest Googley secrets. And be sure to come check out my free Pixel Academy e-course to uncover even more advanced intelligence lurking within your favorite Pixel phone when you’re done.

Pixel setting No. 1: Your friendly phone-holding genie

Some of the Pixel’s most practical features revolve around the brilliant bits of Googley goodness available on the phone calling front — and yet, most of those elements are off by default and barely emphasized in Google’s marketing. Go figure, eh?

First and foremost is the Pixel’s impossibly useful Hold for Me system, which will automatically recognize when you’re placed on hold on a call and offer to shoulder the burden for you. The system will actually monitor the call on your behalf and then audibly alert you when a real (alleged) human comes back on the line — so you can go about drinking your grape soda and playing your tiddlywinks without having to worry about missing a thing.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

Microsoft weathers the financial storm with 12% revenue growth

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Microsoft announced its fourth quarter 2022 results yesterday, posting revenue of $52 billion, up 12% year-on-year. However, the company’s net income was relatively flat at $16.7 billion, at a much more modest increase of just 2%.

In a call with analysts, Microsoft chief financial officer, Amy Hood, said unfavorable foreign exchange rate movement within the quarter negatively impacted revenue and diluted earnings per share, while extended production shutdowns in China and a deteriorating PC market had contributed to a negative Windows OEM revenue impact of more than $300 million.

The scaling down of Microsoft’s operations in Russia also led to the company recording operating expenses of $126 million related to bad debt expense, asset impairments, and severance.

Microsoft’s cloud business continued to go from strength to strength however, surpassing $25 billion for the first time in a quarter and growing at 28% year-on-year.

Segment results

Microsoft’s intelligent cloud segment—which includes Azure public cloud services, SQL Server, Windows Server, and enterprise services—was the primary beneficiary of that growth, up 20% for the quarter, at $20.9 billion.

Server products and cloud services revenue also increased 22% to $3.4 billion, driven by Azure and other cloud services, which saw revenue grow by 40%.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

What is Apple Stage Manager and how is it used?

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If you use an iPad, Mac, or both to get things done, you’ll be looking at Stage Manager when it ships this fall. It’s Apple’s latest attempt to improve multi-tasking on iPads and is available on Macs running macOS Ventura. You enable and disable Apple Stage Manager in the Control Center on Mac and iPad.

What is Apple Stage Manager?

Introduced at WWDC 2022, Stage Manager shows Apple is attempting to create a more harmonious interface between Macs and iPads. Stage Manager is a multitasking feature designed to organize your desktop better. The idea is that the things you are doing can be up front, while all the other applications you need access to are easily available.

It’s just one way Apple is attempting to help you stay focused, including the recently announced Focus Modes, upcoming improvements to single sign-on and more.

For me, Stage Manager is best when used with Universal Control, as it enables you to have multiple open apps across your Macs and iPads, which makes it much easier to migrate between apps while having a unique overview of what you are doing – while using the same keyboard and mouse to handle them all.

What does Stage Manager do?

Open windows are shown at the left-hand side of the display in the form of small screenshots, which will seem familiar to anyone who uses Spaces on the Mac.

The idea is that the window of the app you are working with is displayed in the center, with other open apps and windows arranged on the left in order of recency. This makes it easier to dip in and out of other apps while maintaining a visual sense of what is there.

On iPads, users can create overlapping windows of different sizes in a single view, drag-and-drop windows from the side, or open apps from the Dock to create groups of apps for faster, more flexible multitasking. Stage Manager also unlocks full external display support with resolutions of up to 6K; this lets you arrange the ideal workspace, working with up to four apps on iPad and four apps on the external display.

[Also read: Review: Apple’s M2 MacBook Air]

How to enable Stage Manager on a Mac

Stage Manager is enabled by default on Macs running macOS Ventura, but you can switch it on and off using a toggle in Control Center. You are also able to change which apps are shown in Stage Manager, though you only get two choices: Show Recent Apps, which will show recently used apps on the left side, and Hide Recent Apps, which hides those apps until you bring your mouse to the left side.

(My observation after using my preferred “Hide Recent Apps” state: if you already use Hot Corners and Universal Control you may find this extra contextual load a little taxing, but it is worth persisting until it becomes habitual.)

You can also add Stage Manager to the Menu bar: Open System Settings>Control Center>Stage Manager and check Show in the Menu Bar.

How to use Stage Manager on a Mac

Launch the applications you want to use once you have enabled Stage Manager. Depending on your Recent Apps setting (see above) you’ll either see small icons depicting those apps appear to the left of your display, or will be able to invoke them by moving your cursor to the left edge of the screen. You can then drag the app you want to use along with your existing primary app from the left to the center.

The two apps are now grouped and available side by side in the Stage Manager window. They are also visually represented as two apps in the view.

To open a different app or pair of apps you must tap the icon in the Stage Manager view.

How to enable Stage Manager on an iPad

You also use Control Center to activate Stage Manager on an iPad – just swipe down from the top-right of the screen and tap the Stage Manager icon — it looks like a box with three dots to the left of it. Tap it again to switch it off. Once enabled, the apps you’re using will appear at the center of the screen with a left-hand section showing all your currently active (but unused) apps.

Another benefit for iPad users is that once you have enabled Stage Manager, you can resize windows by dragging the curved white line at the bottom right corner of an app. To close, minimize and find other options to handle an active app, just tap the three-dot icon you find a the top-center of the app; this is also the control you’ll use to ungroup apps, just tap the last (dash) icon.

How to use Stage Manager on an iPad

As with a Mac, you can set Stage Manager to show or hide Recent Apps and see which of your applications are currently active. To open a new app, or pairing of apps, just tap the icon in the Stage Manager view.

What do you need to run Stage Manager?

To run Apple’s Stage Manager UI you’ll need to be using a Mac or iPad running macOS Ventura or iPad OS 16. The feature is compatible with any Mac capable of running macOS Ventura, but is only available to iPads equipped with an Apple ‘M’ processor. That confines it to the current iterations of iPad Pro (11-in. and 12.9-in.) and the recently introduced iPad Air.

Macs that support macOS Ventura:

  • iMac (2017 and later)
  • MacBook Pro (2017 and later)
  • MacBook Air (2018 and later)
  • MacBook (2017 and later)
  • Mac Pro (2019 and later)
  • iMac Pro
  • Mac mini (2018 and later)

If your iPad lacks an M1 chip or your Mac is not included in the above list, Stage Manager will not work.

A work in progress

Stage Manager is beta software, which means how it works or the features it provides could still change before the feature appears, in or after new operating systems ship in early fall. Drop me a line if anything changes and I’ll revise this guide.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2022 Softwaretoolapps, Inc.

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