Commvault and Microsoft Partner to Deliver SaaS and Cloud Technology Solutions | Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Commvault and Microsoft have entered into a multi-year agreement that tightly integrates the go-to-market, engineering and sales of Commvault’s Metallic Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) data protection portfolio with Microsoft Azure – in the hopes of delivering ultimate scale and trusted security with simple SaaS management.
Commvault and Microsoft are bringing together these two technologies – Azure and Metallic SaaS – to meet the need for proven data protection backed by powerful scale and multi-layered security.
According to the companies, Metallic not only enhances the protection of Microsoft Office 365 data in the case of accidental deletion, corruption, and malicious attacks but it also offers a range of additional options from VMware and Microsoft SQL database backup to Endpoint protection.
“Today’s announcement combines two of the best enterprise cloud technologies to simplify and accelerate a customer’s journey to the cloud,” says Sanjay Mirchandani, President and CEO of Commvault.
“This is a new era for Commvault and our direction is clear – help our joint channel partners and customers simplify IT with enterprise-class, proven data protection solutions delivered through SaaS and protected in the cloud. The combination of Commvault and Microsoft truly brings together the most innovative data protection and cloud technologies the two companies have to offer.”
This new phase of the collaboration builds on Commvault’s longstanding use of Azure capabilities including application and data migration, long-term retention, and Azure Blob Storage for its scale, durability and security. The new agreement includes plans to build a SaaS offering of Metallic Cloud Storage on Azure Blob Storage and other deep product integrations with native Azure services.
“Commvault and Microsoft have always delivered trusted technologies to our joint customers, and today’s announcement takes our longstanding relationship to the next level at a critical time for companies to adopt cloud and SaaS technologies,” says Tad Brockway, Corporate VP of Azure Storage.
“Metallic SaaS with Microsoft Azure delivers one of the industry’s most powerful solutions for storing and protecting business-critical data – in the cloud and beyond.”
One of Metallic’s strengths is that it was built in the cloud, using the best of Azure’s native capabilities while leveraging Commvault’s market-leading enterprise technology – the same technology stack that large enterprises have entrusted to protect their mission-critical apps and data.
As part of the agreement, Metallic will be a featured app for SaaS data protection in the Azure Marketplace for public cloud and hybrid IT customers. Commvault will also continue to support choice for customers who request alternative clouds based on business requirements. Metallic Backup & Recovery for Office 365 is now available on the Azure Marketplace.

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Microsoft and LinkedIn to Bring Digital Skills to 25 million People Worldwide | Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Microsoft has announced a new global skills initiative aimed at bringing more digital skills to 25 million people worldwide by the end of the year.
The announcement comes in response to the global economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Expanded access to digital skills is an important step in accelerating economic recovery, especially for the people hardest hit by job losses.
This initiative, detailed on the Official Microsoft Blog, includes immediate steps to help those looking to reskill and pursue an in-demand job and brings together every part of the company, combining existing and new resources from LinkedIn, GitHub and Microsoft.
This includes:

The use of data to identify in-demand jobs and the skills needed to fill them.
Free access to learning paths and content to help people develop the skills these positions require.
Low-cost certifications and free job-seeking tools to help people who develop these skills pursue new jobs.

Microsoft says that this is a comprehensive technology initiative that will build on data and digital technology. It starts with data on jobs and skills from the LinkedIn Economic Graph.
It provides free access to content in LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn and the GitHub Learning Lab, and couples those with Microsoft Certifications and LinkedIn job-seeking tools.
These resources can all be accessed at a central location and will be broadly available online in four languages: English, French, German and Spanish.
In addition, Microsoft is backing the effort with $20 million in cash grants to help nonprofit organizations worldwide assist the people who need it most.
The company is also pledging to make stronger data and analytics — including data from the LinkedIn Economic Graph — available to governments around the world so they can better assess local economic needs.
Microsoft will use its voice to advocate for public policy innovations that will advance skilling opportunities needed in the changing economy.
The company is also creating a new learning app in Microsoft Teams designed to help employers skill and upskill new and current employees as people return to work and as the economy adds jobs.
“COVID-19 has created both public health and an economic crisis, and as the world recovers, we need to ensure no one is left behind,” says Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
“Today, we’re bringing together resources from Microsoft inclusive of LinkedIn and GitHub to reimagine how people learn and apply new skills — and help 25 million people facing unemployment due to COVID-19 prepare for the jobs of the future.”
“The biggest brunt of the current downturn is being borne by those who can afford it the least,” says Microsoft President Brad Smith.
“Unemployment rates are spiking for people of colour and women, as well as younger workers, people with disabilities and individuals with less formal education. Our goal is to combine the best in technology with stronger partnerships with governments and nonprofits to help people develop the skills needed to secure a new job.”
“Creating opportunity for every member of the global workforce drives everything we do at LinkedIn,” says LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky.
“As a part of the Microsoft ecosystem, we have the unique ability to help job seekers around the world — especially those who have been disproportionately disadvantaged during the COVID-19 crisis — gain the skills and find the jobs they deserve. We’re proud to be bringing the right data about what the jobs and skills of the future will be to create the right learning paths to help 25 million job seekers find their next opportunities.”
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Microsoft Releases Urgent Windows Update to Patch Two Critical Flaws – Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Microsoft yesterday quietly released out-of-band software updates to patch two high-risk security vulnerabilities affecting hundreds of millions of Windows 10 and Server editions’ users.
To be noted, Microsoft rushed to deliver patches almost two weeks before the upcoming monthly ‘Patch Tuesday Updates’ scheduled for 14th July.
That’s likely because both flaws reside in the Windows Codecs Library, an easy attack vector to social engineer victims into running malicious media files downloaded from the Internet.
For those unaware, Codecs is a collection of support libraries that help the Windows operating system to play, compress and decompress various audio and video file extensions.

The two newly disclosed security vulnerabilities, assigned CVE-2020-1425 and CVE-2020-1457, are both remote code execution bugs that could allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code and control the compromised Windows computer.
According to Microsoft, both remote code execution vulnerabilities reside in the way Microsoft Windows codec library handles objects in memory.
However, exploiting both flaws requires an attacker to trick a user running an affected Windows system into clicking on a specially crafted image file designed to be opened with any app that uses the built-in Windows Codec Library.
Out of both, CVE-2020-1425 is more critical because the successful exploitation could allow an attacker even to harvest data to compromise the affected user’s system further.
The second vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2020-1457, has been rated as important and could allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code on an affected Windows system.
However, none of the security vulnerabilities has been reported as being publicly known or actively exploited in the wild by hackers at the time Microsoft released emergency patches.

According to advisories, both vulnerabilities were reported to Microsoft by Abdul-Aziz Hariri of Trend Micro’s Zero Day Initiative and affect the following operating systems:

Windows 10 version 1709
Windows 10 version 1803
Windows 10 version 1809
Windows 10 version 1903
Windows 10 version 1909
Windows 10 version 2004
Windows Server 2019
Windows Server version 1803
Windows Server version 1903
Windows Server version 1909
Windows Server version 2004

Since Microsoft is not aware of any workaround or mitigating factor for these vulnerabilities, Windows users are strongly recommended to deploy new patches before attackers start exploiting the issues and compromise their systems.
However, the company is rolling out the out-of-band security updates through the Microsoft Store, so the affected users will be automatically updated without requiring any further action.
Alternatively, if you want don’t want to wait for a few more hours or a day, you can immediately install patches by checking for new updates through the Microsoft Store.

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Microsoft Reportedly Suspending Advertising on Facebook and Instagram | Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Sourced from Getty Images.

Microsoft has reportedly paused advertising on Facebook and Instagram worldwide due to growing concerns about the content that is accompanying its adverts.
Interestingly, the company isn’t participating in the industry-wide Facebook advertising boycott alongside mega-corporations like Coca-Cola and Unilever. Instead, Microsoft is more worried that their adverts might be shown with “inappropriate content” such as hate speech or pornography, according to internal communication viewed by Axios.
Microsoft distances itself from larger boycott
“Based on concerns we had back in May we suspended all media spending on Facebook/Instagram in the US and we’ve subsequently suspended all spending on Facebook/Instagram worldwide,” Microsoft CMO Chris Capossela said in an internal Yammer post, responding to an employee’s question.

In other terms, Microsoft doesn’t trust these platforms enough to police the content they show to allow Microsoft ads on them. That the guidelines enforced by Facebook and Twitter do not do a good enough job to remove “inappropriate content.”
The distinction is important to Microsoft leadership, which seems to prefer to use is power over media partners to privately create or affect change instead of announcing their plans.
“Our experience tells us that the most impactful means to effect genuine, long-term change is through direct dialogue and meaningful action with our media partners, including the suspension of real marketing dollars,” Capossela wrote, making it clear that Microsoft wasn’t taking part in the larger boycott action.
“We’ve also learned from experience that it doesn’t help our customers, our media partners, or Microsoft to publicise our media spend strategy, but to instead work directly with partners on positive change.”
However, to Facebook, this means another blow to its bread-and-butter income of advertising. Microsoft represents another major company removing itself from the social network and its apps.
#StopHateforProfit
This news follows other companies distancing themselves from Facebook in a massive boycott headed by the #StopHateforProfit campaign by several American civil rights groups.
Many companies have said that Facebook’s lack of concrete policies against racism and hate speech across its social platforms is unacceptable as the US grapples with protests against systemic racism.
“There is no place for racism in the world and there is no place for racism on social media,” says CEO of Coca-Cola, James Quincey. Coca-Cola is one of the largest companies to join in on the boycott.
Because of the boycotts, Facebook’s share price dropped by 8% at close of trading last week Friday, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s net wealth fell by $7 billion as of Saturday.
Edited by Luis MonzonFollow Luis Monzon on TwitterFollow Tempemail on Twitter

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NSW Health deploys Microsoft Teams to all 140,000 staff – Cloud – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

NSW Health has equipped more than 100,000 staff with Microsoft Teams since the federal and state government ramped up their public health response to the coronavirus pandemic in March.
The department’s digital arm, eHealth NSW, on Monday said all of its more than 140,000 staff now had access to the unified collaboration platform, as well as Skype for Business. 
When the government’s pandemic shutdown began in mid-March, this figure stood at 34,000 – or less than a third of its total workforce.
Like most other workplaces, NSW Health, including local health districts and speciality health networks, have been directed to work from home where possible to limit the spread of the virus.
Clinicians have also been using Skype for Business to conduct face-to-face consultations virtually where in-person appointments have been disrupted.
This has also allowed clinicians who have needed to self-isolate to continue working.
eHealth NSW conference, collaboration and wireless program manager Jason Matthews said the rollout had enabled clinicians to continue to communicate remotely during the pandemic.
“What it’s doing is enabling NSW Health staff to work and collaborate remotely and safely, which during a global pandemic has never been more crucial,” he said.
Service delivery executive director Farhoud Sallimi said the surge in demand had been met by leveraging the agency’s “Amazon Web Services environment to scale out our Pexip capacity”.
Pexip is an enterprise videoconferencing platform. The vendor is based in Norway.
Early this year, eHealth NSW began brokering public cloud service from both AWS and Microsoft Azure in part to help scale up services in a more timely fashion.
Almost half a million direct person-to-person calls took place on Teams and Skype for Business in April – almost 25 times more calls than in April 2019.
More than 275,000 virtual meetings with a total of one million attendees also took place, compared with 18,000 meetings between 66,000 attendees the year before.
Other state health departments have also introduced Teams at lightning speed in response to the pandemic.
SA Health armed more than 40,000 of its staff with the platform in just a single week to ensure communication, particularly between clinical teams, could continue during the coronavirus crisis.

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Microsoft to close all its retail stores – Hardware – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

All physical Microsoft stores around the world will be closed permanently this year after 11 years of operation.
The move follows Microsoft being forced to close its stores in March this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of the 83 stores worldwide, 72 are in the United States.
Microsoft’s Westfield Sydney location will be turned into an “experience centre” – along with those in New York and London. These won’t sell any products.
The company’s Redmond campus will also become an experience centre, Microsoft Store vice president David Porter said.
Instead of the physical stores, Microsoft intends to focus on online retailing, through which it already reaches 1.2 billion customers in 190 markets, Porter said.
No staff redundancies are expected due to the store closures, with employees being redeployed to the main Microsoft campus in Redmond, and to work remotely to serve customers through video chats, online tutorials and virtual workshops.
“It is a new day for how Microsoft Store team members will serve all customers,” Porter said
“We are energised about the opportunity to innovate in how we engage with all customers, maximise our talent for greatest impact, and most importantly help our valued customers achieve more,” he added.
Microsoft will take a pre-tax charge of US$450 million to cover asset write-offs and impairments following the store closures.

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Microsoft Teams Now Available for Personal Use | Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Sourced from Tech Republic.

Microsoft has launched the personal version of Microsoft Teams, as a part of a broader effort by Microsoft to remain relevant with its consumers after a series of moves away from consumer-friendly products.
The company is adding new features to the existing Microsoft Teams app that might appeal to a set of people looking to do more than just chat. The Verge writes that this is not meant to be a way to begin to compete with the likes of WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, but simply a repositioning of Teams as more friendly to individuals and their families, and not just meant for corporations or businesses.
Sourced from The Verge.
Launched initially as a preview for iOS and Android, Microsoft Teams for personal use includes the basics of text chat and video calling, combined with shared lists, documents, calendars, and location sharing.

The app now includes a dashboard of events, locations, tasks, and images that everyone in a group has shared. Microsoft is trying to take all of the best features of Microsoft Teams for work and make them relevant for when you need them at home.
Microsoft wants to the repositioning of Teams to be a means for families or friends to organise groups events or get things done – such as planning a family vacation or staying in touch with extended families.
“I think if all you want to do is just have a chat with someone, there are plenty of great standalone chat apps,” admits Liat Ben-Zur, a Microsoft executive working on the company’s “Modern Life” initiative to The Verge.
Microsoft Teams is now being designed for “people who find themselves coordinating lots of group type events,” says Ben-Zur.
“Everything from busy moms… to people who head up Girl Scout troops, fantasy football leagues, people who are doing book clubs, people running social advocacy groups. People who are constantly finding themselves in groups trying to coordinate various things in groups.”
The mobile versions of Microsoft Teams for iOS and Android will be updated to allow anyone to log into the apps with a personal Microsoft Account.
Users will be able to quickly switch within the apps from work to a home account and use the personal version alongside other Office apps like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
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Vodacom Business and Microsoft Partner on Digital Education Platform | Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Vodacom Business and Microsoft South Africa have partnered to provide access to continuous, connected digital learning for South Africa’s education institutions, educators and learners through their Connected Digital Education initiative.
This is in response to the growing need for affordable online learning solutions that meet the educational requirements of today’s learners through a secure combination of connectivity, collaboration, communication and educational tools and resources, while also considering the long-term need to transform education.
The Connected Digital Education Platform is a trusted education platform that enables remote learning with affordable connectivity, ultimately turning the learning environment into a single, simple solution for the learner and giving them access to the tools, apps and resources they need to learn.
“As a company with a purpose to connect for a better future, we are leveraging our ongoing partnership with Microsoft to provide educational institutions, from schools through to universities, with an education bundle of data at an affordable rate to participating institutions. We are fundamentally accelerating digital transformation in education through online learning now and well into the future” says Shameel Joosub, CEO of Vodacom.

The solution also provides access to cost-effective data and educational apps and resources through Vodacom Business’s Edu Data Bundle and Microsoft Office 365 Education, a cloud-based service which offers the key Microsoft productivity apps like Teams, OneNote, Outlook, Word, PowerPoint and Excel.
With the Connected Digital Education Platform, educators are able to continue to deliver classes to their learners, who can participate through chat or voice using a SIM card where access to Teams is provided for free, allowing them to continue learning regardless of where they are or what device they are using – whether it be an Android, iOS or Windows smartphone, tablet or laptop.
The solution addresses the short-term need for online learning, while education institutions are partially closed, by giving educators and learners access to the tools and resources they need to teach and learn respectively.
However, it also addresses the long-term need to transform education and provides learners with the tools needed to equip them with technological fluency, high-level knowledge skills and an agile mindset that embraces innovation and creativity – the skills that are needed for future employability.
“This empowers both educators and learners and enables learning to continue in a seamless manner, which is a priority for Microsoft as we aim to ensure that South African learners are equipped with the right tools and skills needed to make them future-ready. The ability to bring together learning into one hub or solution is invaluable, and forms an important part of our commitment to building a complete education solution with critical partnerships with organisations like Vodacom Business,” says Lillian Barnard, MD of Microsoft South Africa.

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Microsoft Shuts Down Streaming Platform Mixer, Partners with Facebook Gaming | Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Sourced from Geekwire.

Microsoft is closing its Mixer video game live-streaming service on 22 July 2020 with plans to move existing partners and streamers over to Facebook Gaming.
Mixer, launched in 2016, will now no longer be operated by Microsoft as a service. The reason for this decision is that the company has struggled to reach the scale needed for Mixer to compete with Twitch, YouTube, and even Facebook Gaming itself.
“We started pretty far behind, in terms of where Mixer’s monthly active viewers were compared to some of the big players out there,” says Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s head of gaming, in an interview with The Verge.
“I think the Mixer community is really going to benefit from the broad audience that Facebook has through their properties, and the abilities to reach gamers in a very seamless way through the social platform Facebook has,” he says.

Microsoft Partners with Facebook Gaming
Along with the announcement of the closure of Mixer, Microsoft likewise announced a new partnership with Facebook in order to transition existing viewers and streamers from Mixer over to Facebook Gaming in the coming weeks.
On 22 July, all Mixer sites and apps will automatically redirect to Facebook Gaming. Existing Mixer Partners will be granted partner status with Facebook Gaming, and any streamers using the Mixer monetization program will be granted eligibility for Facebook’s Level Up program.
Mixer viewers with outstanding Ember balances, channel subscriptions, or Mixer Pro subscriptions will receive Xbox gift card credit.
Facebook Gaming and xCloud
Clearly a strategic choice between the two massive corporations, it is also a method to broaden the appeal of its upcoming xCloud game streaming service and its overall gaming efforts.
Microsoft will work closely with Facebook to bring xCloud to Facebook Gaming, allowing viewers to click and immediately play games that people are streaming. It’s a vision that’s very similar to Google’s ambitions with Stadia, but Mixer has lacked the scale and viewership to truly deliver this more broadly.
The company has talked in the past about its vision of reaching 2 billion gamers with xCloud, but Mixer was nowhere near a strong enough position to have achieved that vision.
“When we think about xCloud and the opportunity to unlock gameplay for 2 billion players, we know it’s going be critically important that our services find large audiences and Facebook clearly gives us that opportunity,” says Spencer.
Ninja, Shroud, and other Mixer Streamers
Microsoft has previously recruited huge-name streamers such as Ninja and Shroud to exclusive deals on Mixer. Meaning that these super-popular streamers would only stream on Microsoft’s service.
It seems now that, even with the inclusion of these massive deals – Ninja’s Mixer contract was estimated to be worth about $20 million to $30 million – the streaming service never managed to rake up the viewership of its contemporaries.
As of now, Shroud, Ninja and other exclusive streamers are free agents and can journey back to previous platforms to stream, platforms such as Twitch.
Edited by Luis MonzonFollow Luis Monzon on TwitterFollow Tempemail on Twitter

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Surface Earbuds review: Microsoft’s AirPods rivals | Microsoft – Blog – 10 minute

Microsoft has finally launched a competitor to Apple’s AirPods and Samsung’s Galaxy Buds+ with its Surface Earbuds – and they are just a little bit different from the rest.
The Surface Earbuds cost £199.99 and only come in grey. Their distinctive design certainly stands out.
Instead of having stalks that hang down or looking like traditional earbuds, the Surface Earbuds are large circular discs with an earbud on one side. The outside world just sees a big, grey circle that resembles a large earring.

From the front or side-on the Surface Earbuds are very obvious, attracting quite a few quizzical looks from passersby, even in these strange days of masks and physical distancing. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
The fit of the earbuds is also different. They sit in your ear without entering your ear canal, similar to Apple’s AirPods, but with a silicone tip that wedges against the inside of your concha with a small wing.
Like the AirPods they do not block out any background noise. But are much more stable in the ear once twisted into place: no matter how hard I danced around, ran or shook my head they stayed in place. The earbuds feel light and are among the more comfortable options, despite being large and weighing a comparatively heavy 7.2 grams each. I could wear them for more than two hours without taking a break.
Specifications

Water resistance: IPX4

Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0, SBC, aptX

Battery life: 11 hours listening, up to 22 hours with case

Earbud weight: 7.2 grams

Earbud size: 25 x 19.9mm

Driver size: 13.6mm

Charging case dimensions: 33.2 x 75 x 25mm

Charging case weight: 40 grams

Case charging: USB-C

Fast pairing

The Surface Audio app handles updates and settings, including an equaliser, but also has tutorial videos that show you how to use the earbuds. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
The Surface Earbuds support Bluetooth 5 connectivity and the basic SBC and higher quality aptX audio standards, which is great for Windows PCs and Android smartphones, but lack of support for the higher quality AAC used with all Apple devices is a shame.
Their connection to various Windows 10 PCs with either Bluetooth 4.2 or 5, a OnePlus 8 Pro, Samsung Galaxy Z Flip and an iPad Pro was strong and reliable. I could not, however, test their performance in congested areas because of government restrictions to stem the coronavirus pandemic in the UK.
The Surface Earbuds support Microsoft’s Swift Pair for Windows 10 and Google’s Fast Pair for Android for one-tap pairing that works brilliantly. Pairing them to an iPhone or iPad requires the traditional manual process using the Settings app.
The earbuds connect to only one device at a time, but you can switch devices by simply hitting connect on your phone or PC without having to first disconnect a previous device. The earbuds announce whether they are connected to a phone or a PC. Unlike most true wireless earbuds, you can only use the right Surface Earbud on its own, not the left.
Controls

The large touch-sensitive surface makes it easier to activate the various gestures than with some smaller earbuds from competitors, but lack of a pause-on-remove function is disappointing. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
The large grey discs are giant touch panels for a great set of tap-and-swipe gesture controls. On either bud, double tap for pause/play, triple tap to start playing music from Spotify on Android or tap and hold to activate your smartphone’s voice assistant. Double tap to answer or hang up on a call. Swipe up or down on the right earbud to change volume and forwards or backwards on the left earbud to skip a track.
Sound

The silicone earbud tip, of which three sizes are included, fits over the hard plastic structure of the Surface Earbud. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
The Surface Earbuds sound surprisingly good considering their open fit. They offer a fairly wide soundstage, reasonable separation of tones and producing crisp highs, well-rounded mids and enough bass to make most tracks sound good. Those seeking really deep bass will have to look elsewhere as it is just not possible with an open earbud design.
They lack a little sparkle and detail for expansive orchestral pieces, but they sound good with most other genres out of the box, including rock, rap, pop and high-intensity electronica, and there is also an equaliser to tweak things to your liking.
Overall they sound slightly better than the standard AirPods, but will not come close to the best-sounding true wireless earbuds such as Sony’s WF-1000XM3 and Sennheiser’s Momentum True Wireless 2.
Call quality was pretty good too, with the other end saying I sounded clear but a little distant. My end was loud, clear and crisp in stereo, but background noise is an issue as they do not isolate.
Case and battery life

The earbuds clip into place in the case using magnets. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
The earbuds slot into place inside a small, flip-top hard-plastic case for charging and storage, where they are held in place by magnets. The case is larger than that for the Galaxy Buds+ or AirPods, but is still easily pocketable and just about fits into the money pocket in a pair of jeans.
The Surface Earbuds last for just under eight hours of constant playback. The case can charge the earbuds fully twice, for up to 24 hours of combined battery life. A 10-minute trip in the case is enough to add up to one hour of playback to the earbuds. The case charges via USB-C in an hour.
Sustainability and faults

The individual components of the Surface Earbuds set can be replaced, but not repaired. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
Microsoft rates the batteries to maintain at least 80% capacity for 500 full charge cycles, but they are not replaceable and the earbuds are not repairable, ultimately making them disposable, like most true wireless earbuds. The earbuds and case, as well as other accessories, can be replaced separately or as a bundle costing £170.40 out of warranty.

The earbuds are not made of any recycled materials but Microsoft offers various recycling schemes.

In the process of conducting this review I received two sets of faulty earbuds. Each time the left earbud suffered from a bug that drained the battery in less than 90 minutes, caused it to heat up, not play audio and not switch off when placed in the case, and eventually refuse to charge. At least two users on Microsoft’s community forums appear to be affected by the same issue.
A Microsoft spokesperson said: “All of our products undergo extensive quality testing to ensure that they provide customers with the best possible experience, and so we’re sorry to hear of this particular occurrence. We are currently investigating the issue that affected performance in the case of these earbuds.”
A third set worked as intended for the last several weeks of the review period.
Observations

The case is compact and well made, with a Microsoft logo printed on the top. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The earbuds turn off after 10 minutes of being motionless on a table.

On first listen the earbuds play a short welcome message and audio user guide, which is a nice touch.

The earbuds have a few Microsoft 365/Office specific features, such as dictation in Word and live captions in PowerPoint.

I noticed a few latency (lip sync) issues with video on Windows 10, but not with major video apps on Android – they will not be any good for gaming.

Occasionally the earbuds needed a bit of a wiggle to make proper contact with the charging pins in the case, which flashes red when there’s a problem.

Price

The Microsoft Surface Earbuds cost £199.99 in the UK or $199.99 in the US.

For comparison, Apple AirPods have an RRP of £159, the AirPods Pro cost £249, the Samsung Galaxy Buds+ cost £159, the Jabra Elite 75t cost £169.99, the Libratone Track Air+ cost £167, the Sony WF-1000XM3 cost £169 and the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 cost £279.

Verdict
The Microsoft Surface Earbuds are a bit different from the rest of the true wireless earbuds. They are one of very few good earbuds that offer an open-ear design alongside the AirPods. If you do not like having your ear canal blocked and are not keen on AirPods, the Surface Earbuds are great.
But they suffer the same problem as the AirPods: they don’t block out any noise. That’s great for awareness of your surroundings, but if you’re trying to concentrate in a busy office or hear your music on a commute, when those things are allowed again, they will be no good.
Despite being comfortable and secure in your ear – with good sound, long battery life and a pocketable case – they are big and attention-grabbing. People will look at you wearing these on the street. Two faulty sets is also a worry, and the lack of AAC support is disappointing to Apple users.
They are certainly not cheap nor the best or feature-rich true wireless earbuds out there, but the Surface Earbuds are a decent alternative to the AirPods if you like design. Not bad for a first try.

Pros: open fit that doesn’t enter your ear canal, secure fit, good sound, long battery life, good case, great controls, USB-C, good calling, apps for Windows 10, Android and iOS, apt X
Cons: no AAC for Apple, no isolation, no noise cancelling, can’t connect to two devices at the same time, no pause on remove, expensive

The USB-C port on the back charges the case and is used for updates with the Surface Audio app on a Windows PC. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian
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