Welcome to our latest round-up of news from the technology and hosting world. Here’s what we’ve discovered this month.
Windows 11 on the way
Microsoft has finally unveiled Windows 11, the updated version of its operating system planned for release later this year. Free to existing Windows users with compatible hardware and with annual updates, it has a new look and some new features.
Taking centre stage, literally, is a new Start menu, which has been moved from the corner into the middle of the screen. Unlike previous incarnations, this cloud-powered version changes dynamically during the day and in line with the apps you are using.
The taskbar has had a name change and is now called the dock, which comes with an improved ‘docking experience’, while a further UX improvement is the introduction of ‘snap layouts’ that enable users to view and arrange app windows in various layouts for easier multitasking. What’s more, if you remove an app from a snap group, you can add it back from the dock.
While some of the less popular elements of Windows 10 are being pushed to the back (Cortana and Skype will be hidden away rather than screaming from the taskbar) the highly popular Teams is being built into the Windows 11 experience, enabling users to make free calls directly from the PCs.
Returning to Windows 11 are widgets, not seen since Windows 7. Their availability comes hand in hand with a major upgrade to the Microsoft Store.
Besides lots of aesthetic and UI improvements, Microsoft says this will be the most secure OS release yet and that in future, any updates will be 40% smaller. For Windows 10 admirers, however, time is running out – Microsoft will stop all support for it in 2025.
UK to overhaul GDPR
After all the effort everyone went through to comply with GDPR, it looks like, following Brexit, the UK is pushing ahead with its own data protection plans. A government taskforce set up to provide recommendations considers existing GDPR rules to be prescriptive and inflexible and has called for them to be scrapped.
According to the taskforce, the current GDPR legislation has too many overly complex consent requests and restricts the use of data for ‘worthwhile purposes.’ It wants it replaced with new regulations that provide people with stronger rights and ensures organisations use data responsibly, but which doesn’t stifle innovation or act against the public interest. As a result, any new UK regulations are likely to put fewer obligations on businesses, make it easier for companies to develop AI and make it more practical for users to give consent for things like cookies.
Another factor influencing the proposed changes is that the current data protection laws put smaller companies at a disadvantage. While the compliance burden is affordable to tech giants, many small businesses struggle.
UK Loses Google Campus as Startups flourish
Google says the UK’s burgeoning technology sector no longer needs its London Startup Campus and has decided not to reopen it after the lockdown. Its staff will, however, continue to give remote support, mentoring and training.
Since lockdown began, UK startups have shown considerable growth. The country now boasts the third largest startup ecosystem in the world and is the first in Europe to have 100 tech unicorns (tech startups valued at over $1 billion).
With the UK receiving over a third of all tech investment in Europe and having more startups than anywhere else on the continent, the need for a physical startup hub is no longer there, especially as businesses have alternative ways to access Google’s help and resources.
Faster broadband for SMBs
SMB customers of newly merged Virgin Media O2 with Voom Fibre broadband plans are having their upload speeds increased for free to help them recover from the pandemic. According to the telecoms company, this will speed up their ability to make video calls, send emails and access files in the cloud. For some customers, their upload speeds will almost be trebled. Download speeds, however, will remain unchanged.
With SMBs making up half of business revenue for telecoms companies, this is an area of increasing competition with providers now developing services tailored to the needs of smaller companies. Aside from VM-O2’s Voom broadband, BT has also launched its own offerings. Its SoHo packages are designed for self-employed home workers and companies with just one premises, while another hybrid Wi-Fi-4G package has been created for micro-businesses.
Vodafone going full green ahead
With businesses being squeezed by both regulation and consumer demand to become more environmentally friendly, Vodafone has become the latest big tech brand to announce major sustainability changes.
Following a successful 2020 in which the company cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 30%, from July, it will now power its entire European network using only hydro, wind and solar generated electricity. This move, which has been brought forward four years, is part of the company’s commitment to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. It aims to become net-zero across its African operations by 2025 and wants to become completely net-zero across its entire supply chain by 2040.
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