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By 24 May 2019 | Categories: feature articles

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In light of today's media day to highlight particular functionality aimed at improving user's lives, Microsoft unpacked a few innovations that users may not know are available to them.

In September 2018, Microsoft released the Xbox Adaptive Controller, a video game controller designed by Microsoft for Windows PCs and the Xbox One video game console. The controller was designed for gamers with limited mobility to help make user input for video games more accessible.

The adaptive controller demonstrates the spirit of Microsoft’s current approach to innovation, one of inclusiveness.  Our mission, to empower every person on the planet, is evident in all the products we design.

Sometimes, however, some of those innovations go unnoticed.  They shouldn’t.  They were designed to make people’s lives easier, they improve productivity, accessibility, and security, and they have the power to positively impact the way people live their everyday lives, at work, at play and in their homes.

Technology built for all

Technology is the most powerful tool we have for improving people’s lives. Microsoft’s approach to technology centres around being as inclusive as possible with the aim of providing everyone with access to technology.

Millions of people around the world are excluded, in public spaces, at work, and in schools, because of their disability. Technology, when used properly, changes that.  It levels the playing field – that’s what the adaptive controller does. It empowers people with motor-related disabilities can play their favourite games. Another Xbox innovation which makes gaming more accessible is Co-Pilot, a solution which allows two players to control one controller as well as the adaptive controller.

Microsoft has also recognised the need to address visual, hearing and speech disabilities and designed solutions such as Narrator, Colour filters and Colour filters, Mono Audio options,  Speech interaction with Windows,  and eye tracking make using Windows easier for people faced with various disabilities.

In Office, dictation, which allows you to type using your voice on Word, Touch input which allows for touchscreen inputting of information and ReadAloud, a speech to text app, are also helping to create accessibility.

Collaboration - the key to improved productivity

The easier our tools are to use and the simpler they make your life the more productive you will be.  When it comes to work, the world really is a global village, and the need for collaborative efforts across markets is more demanding than ever.  It’s no longer good enough to just provide people with information sharing platforms. They need to be able to work on documents and share ideas across these platforms.

Collaborative working allows for speed to solutions and ease of consensus.

For example, Microsoft’s Real Time Co-Authoring allows you to collaborate online and in real time on word documents, leading to increased productivity in the workplace. And, OneDrive Sharing allows you to share files, give permission to view or edit them and work together on files at the same time.

Increased productivity is also efficiency dependent. In the workplace, this means easy access to information and tools which streamline processes.  For example, not everyone enjoys or has the time to design a PowerPoint presentation. QuickStarter helps you build better PowerPoint presentations, faster. You simply type in the subject you are working on select the information you want to include and the slides you want to keep, and it will generate your presentation, saving you time and freeing you up to perform other tasks.   

Similarly, Researcher helps you find and cite reliable sources for your research paper in just a few steps.

We often find that the productivity tools we produce have a broader impact outside of what they were designed for – the beauty of an inclusive approach. Math Assist, for example, is a NotePad application that allows you solve complex mathematics equations quickly and it shows you step-by-step instructions that help you learn how - great for work and perfect for parents helping their kids with their homework.  

Enhanced Safety 

Untrammelled access to information has brought with it concerns around safety.  Companies are worried about sensitive information leaking and parents are worried about their children viewing harmful content.

The safety of applications and devices is a key focus for Microsoft.  OneDrive security has improved functions such as two-factor authentication and advanced virus protection which, when used in conjunction with Office 365, means improved security of your data on the cloud.

Improved email safety includes the new do not forward email and protected email encryption functionality.  Family protection for Windows limits account access to certain websites and content helping families protect their children from viewing sensitive material and content online and Windows Defender protects users from malware.

Xbox has also implemented Family Safety which allows parents to filter-out age restricted games and content.

These are just some of the most recent innovations which are helping to make the world a more inclusive place. As we continue to innovate we will find more solutions and tools which speak to the needs of different communities. The more of these we find the closer we will be to our mission, empowering every person and organisation on the planet to achieve more.

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