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If You Want to Grow Like Google, Make These Important Culture Moves at Your Office

Google might be a successful behemoth now, but at one time, it was a startup going through some serious growing pains. At one point in its aggressive development, co-founder Larry Page reportedly scrapped the company’s burgeoning middle management level. He quickly discovered that, despite his preferences, an additional supervisory layer was necessary to successfully scale operations without major hiccups.

Therein lies a major problem with scaling: It doesn’t just involve getting progressively bigger, like a blown-up balloon. Instead, its shape morphs as new needs arise, such as heightened employee responsibilities and changing customer expectations. And plenty of smart leaders ignore these red flags when they’re growing at breakneck speed.

What are some of those indicators of runaway growth? Team burnout might as well be a neon sign. Another problem is dwindling capital with no real profit sources in sight. Of course, unhappy customers are a sure side effect of unhinged expansion.

If you’re increasing revenue, you may be tempted to keep your foot on the pedal instead of tapping the brakes. Don’t halt your forward momentum, but remain open to addressing a few issues that will make scaling less challenging — and more rewarding — for all stakeholders.

Here are three ways you can help your office’s culture grow with the pace of your fast growing company:

1. Define and direct your team’s new cultural journey.

When you’re a 10-person shop, your culture may look and function like a big family. When you hit the 50- or 100-employee mark, complete with remote workers, you can’t sustain the same kind of atmosphere. That’s OK, but it means you need to rethink your team’s collective identity.

If you haven’t established your corporate purpose or vision, now’s the time. Choose a few main value points, and create robust statements around them. After you’ve run your ideas by trusted colleagues and tweaked them as necessary, release your vision so everyone’s on the same page.

Certainly, your culture will evolve as you get bigger. Google didn’t stay static; neither should your company. Nevertheless, establishing your corporate DNA before you get exceptionally large will help everyone remain true to your vision, even as changes naturally occur.

One of the biggest impacts I’ve seen on culture is to align everyone around shared values. The process of discussing the behaviors exhibiting each value has helped many of my clients create teams that work together toward a common goal.

2. Keep your head in the present moment.

Although you’ll need to project into the future, you can’t lose sight of your current growth stage. As a leader, your job is to be both a pragmatist and a visionary. Even as your world swirls with opportunities, you owe it to your workers to take the team’s capacity into account and establish a healthy baseline.

Are your people up to the challenges you’re about to face? Do they have the training and capabilities to handle emerging roles? Never make assumptions — they’ll always backfire. As you prepare for the next adventure, be open to upskilling staff and perhaps even shifting employees into different roles.

Experiment with new org charts, seeing which ones fit current and anticipated needs. Google’s Page quickly walked back his experiment in eliminating middle management, yet focusing on getting the right people in the right roles was crucial to Google’s success at that stage. Through trial and error, you can determine which employee, organization, revenue and profit restructures make the most sense to propel your business forward.

3. Discover and address operational bottlenecks.

When Page eliminated mid-level managers, he quickly realized that having one executive with 100 engineers reporting to him wouldn’t turn out well. Situations like that are bound to result in bottlenecks. Every fast-growing business experiences bottlenecks in areas like hiring, customer service and operations.

Some bottlenecks are relatively obvious, making them easier to fix. If an employee has so much paperwork to deal with that he’s become a living traffic jam, you need to streamline your processes — the problem is apparent, and you can intervene immediately.

Other issues may be buried deep within systems and supply chains, making them tough to pinpoint. For those situations, AI can provide critical insights. AI platforms can analyze thousands of data points at once, spotting problems that might take years to bubble to the surface.

You may or may not one day compete with the likes of Google. If you stick around, though, your organization will inevitably need to scale. The more you focus on thoughtfully navigating the experience, the better your outcome will be.

By: Gene Hammett

 

Source: If You Want to Grow Like Google, Make These Important Culture Moves at Your Office | Inc.com

@Ade Oshineye presents from the Google Developers Summit on how you as a developer can grow with Google+, namely highlighting: Reach, user acquisiton and conversion, user engagement and retention, and finally, when needed, re-engagement. #developer   #developers

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Microsoft Crunched Reams of Employee Data. This Was the Ideal Number of Hours for a Leader to Work

As anyone who follows baseball or saw the 2011 film Moneyball knows, America’s favorite pastime now runs on data. Players are monitored on a minute level, generating a flood of statistics that both players and managers use to make better decisions. What would happen if we tried the same approach to leadership, Microsoft recently wondered?

What came next is the subject of a fascinating recent New York Times article by Neil Irwin, chronicling the effort of Microsoft HR manager Dawn Klinghoffer and Ryan Fuller, the founder of a data analysis startup, VoloMetrix, acquired by Microsoft, to wring insights from employees’ calendar and email metadata.

The long piece is centered on a mystery: why did people hate working at Microsoft’s hardware division so much (spoiler: the answer is mostly meeting bloat) and is a great read if you have a half hour to spare. But in the course of teasing out this answer, Irwin also reveals a few short, easy-to-digest takeaways of the project that can help anyone become a better leader.

1. Long hours are a sign of a bad leader.

Being a leader is an intense job, so we often expect that those at the top are going to need to put in intense hours. Not so, according to Microsoft’s data on managers. In fact, the analysis showed, “that people who worked extremely long work weeks were not necessarily more effective than those who put in a more normal 40 to 50 hours.”

Leaders, in particular, saw negative effects when they worked long hours. “When managers put in lots of evening and weekend hours, their employees started matching the behavior and became less engaged in their jobs, according to surveys,” notes Irwin.

Decades of research shows that while short bursts of overtime are fine, consistently clocking more than 40 hours a week leads to a marked drop off in productivity, so this shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. But with hustle porn so popular today, there are still plenty of leaders who haven’t gotten this message. Microsoft’s results should be one more nail in the coffin of the idea that routine long hours are a sign of a great leader.

2. One-on-one meetings are gold.

While the entire Microsoft project could be seen as one big indictment of bloated meetings, that doesn’t mean all get togethers are bad. In fact, the analysis suggested that one type in particular is essential if you aim to be a great leader.

“One of the strongest predictors of success for middle managers was that they held frequent one-on-one meetings with the people who reported directly to them,” writes Irwin.

3. Wide networks beat deep ones.

Everyone knows that who you know is key to business success, but exactly what sort of contacts are best? The Microsoft data provided a clear answer. When it comes to climbing the ladder, it’s not the depth of your connections that matter most, it’s the breadth.

“People who made lots of contacts across departments tended to have longer, better careers within the company. There was even an element of contagion, in that managers with broad networks passed their habits on to their employees,” Irwin reports.

Again, this jives with previous research showing that having an open network — i.e. being the type of person who connects different groups and knows people in a broad array of social and professional circles — is one of the best predictors of career success, not just for managers, but for everyone.

But just because these findings aren’t totally groundbreaking, doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable. Despite the data, a great many aspiring leaders try to grind their way to the top, neglect one-on-one relationship building, and work mostly to leverage their existing network full of people similar to them rather than trying to broader their connections.

These results out of Microsoft suggest that just by following the numbers and making a few small changes, you can give yourself a huge leg up in the race to become a successful leader.

 

Source: Microsoft Crunched Reams of Employee Data. This Was the Ideal Number of Hours for a Leader to Work | Inc.com

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Microsoft Confirms New Windows CPU Attack Vulnerability, Advises All Users To Update Now

A security vulnerability that affects Windows computers running on 64-bit Intel and AMD processors could give an attacker access to your passwords, private conversations, and any other information within the operating system kernel memory. Users are advised to update Windows in order to mitigate against this new CPU “SWAPGS attack” risk.

What is the SWAPGS attack?

“We call this the SWAPGS attack because the vulnerability leverages the SWAPGS instruction,” Bogdan Botezatu, director of threat research and reporting at Bitdefender, says “an under-documented instruction that makes the switch between user-owned memory and kernel memory.” Botezatu also says that, at this point, “all Intel CPUs manufactured between 2012 and today are vulnerable to the SWAPGS attack.” Which means every Intel chip going back to the “Ivy Bridge” processor is vulnerable if inside a machine running Windows.

However, it appears it is not just Intel CPUs that are affected by the SWAPGS attack vulnerability. According to a Red Hat advisory published August 6th, the threat “applies to x86-64 systems using either Intel or AMD processors.” Something that AMD itself disputes.

An AMD spokesperson pointed me in the direction of a public statement online: “AMD is aware of new research claiming new speculative execution attacks that may allow access to privileged kernel data. Based on external and internal analysis, AMD believes it is not vulnerable to the SWAPGS variant attacks because AMD products are designed not to speculate on the new GS value following a speculative SWAPGS. For the attack that is not a SWAPGS variant, the mitigation is to implement our existing recommendations for Spectre variant 1.”

That same Red Hat advisory stated that “based on industry feedback, we are not aware of any known way to exploit this vulnerability on Linux kernel-based systems.” During my briefing with Botezatu, he noted that “Linux machines are also impacted,” however, due to the operating system architecture they are “less prone to this type of attack, as it is less reliable.” Botezatu says that other operating system vendors are not impacted at this point, “but are still investigating similar attack avenues leveraging the SWAPGS attack.”

As already mentioned, Bitdefender researchers have been working with Intel for more than a year to address the risk from this new “side-channel” attack that, the company said, “bypasses all known mitigations implemented after the discovery of Spectre and Meltdown in early 2018.”

However, it has waited until now to disclose the information as Microsoft has issued a fix to address the vulnerability as part of the July 9 “Patch Tuesday” updates. Even so, despite the best efforts of everyone concerned, Bitdefender admitted that “it is possible that an attacker with knowledge of the vulnerability could have exploited it to steal confidential information.”

A Microsoft spokesperson provided me with the following statement: “We’re aware of this industry-wide issue and have been working closely with affected chip manufacturers and industry partners to develop and test mitigations to protect our customers. We released security updates in July, and customers who have Windows Update enabled and applied the security updates are protected automatically.”

I understand that as soon as Microsoft became aware of the issue, it worked quickly to address it and release an update as soon as possible. Microsoft works closely with both researchers and industry partners to make customers more secure, and as such did not publish details until August 6 as part of a coordinated vulnerability disclosure.

Red Hat has stated that “there is no known complete mitigation other than updating the kernel and rebooting the system. This kernel patch builds on existing Spectre mitigations from previous updates.”

So, to address the issue for Linux machines requires updates to the Linux kernel in combination with microcode updates. “Red Hat customers running affected versions of the Red Hat products are strongly recommended to update them as soon as errata are available,” Red Hat advises, “customers are urged to apply the appropriate updates immediately and reboot to mitigate this flaw correctly.”

Meanwhile, an Intel spokesperson provided the following statement via email:

“On August 6th, researchers from Bitdefender published a paper entitled “Security Implications of Speculatively Executing Segmentation Related Instructions on Intel CPUs.” As stated in their paper, Intel expects that exploits described by the researchers are addressed through the use of existing mitigation techniques. We believe strongly in the value of coordinated disclosure and value our partnership with the research community. As a best practice, we continue to encourage everyone to keep their systems up-to-date.”

How is the SWAPGS attack related to Spectre?

Like the Spectre vulnerability which dominated the headlines for so long, this new side-channel exploit takes advantage of the speculative execution functionality of modern processors. Simply put, that functionality speeds up the CPU by enabling it to make a bunch of educated guesses as to the instructions that will come at it next. Thomas Brewster has a good primer on these side-channel attacks in this Forbes article from May 22, 2018.

Where SWAPGS differs is in the attack methodology as it combines that speculative execution of instructions with the use of that previously mentioned SWAPGS instruction by Windows operating systems within a gadget.

How easily can this attack be executed?

The chances of falling victim to a SWAPGS attack now that the details have been disclosed have increased, so users are advised to apply available updates as a matter of urgency if they have not already done so. However, it should be remembered that, as Botezatu admits, “this is not your run of the mill attack against regular computers, as running the SWAPGS attack is time-consuming.”

Your average threat actor would instead rely on lucrative, and easy to execute, attack methodologies such as phishing. “On the other side, exploiting this bug from a threat actor perspective brings significant advantages,” Botezatu warns “it circumvents anti-malware defenses and would leave no traces on the compromised system.”

The scary firmware attack surface explained

Ian Thornton Trump, head of cybersecurity at Amtrust International, knows what this “BIOS and firmware” attack surface looks like. “To understand why it’s so scary comes down to one simple concept,” Thornton-Trump tells me, “if the firmware, BIOS and microcode layers of a computer are insecure than it is impossible to put a secure operating system on top of that.”

Indeed, when the original Spectre threat story first broke, I recall Thornton-Trump speculating that the modern CPU is actually an operating system unto itself; concluding that architectural and procedural vulnerabilities will be aggressively explored by security researchers.

“Now we have a new development in this story,” Thornton-Trump says, “inserting code into speculative execution can yield an exploit for a component of the 64-bit Windows Kernel.” What does this mean? “It means the Operating System is no longer secure because the CPU is not secure,” and the result of that is a leak of user mode data.

Which users are at most real-world risk from SWAPGS?

“Criminals with knowledge of these attacks would have the power to uncover the most vital, best-protected information of both companies and private individuals around the world, and the corresponding power to steal, blackmail, sabotage and spy,” Gavin Hill, vice-president for datacenter and network security products at Bitdefender warned.

“I don’t think this is going to be leveraged into a Wannacry or Notpetya level of attack,” Thornton-Trump says, “and I don’t think it will be adopted by cyber-criminals with financial motivations.” These are the sort of vulnerabilities that “Government Cloud” and “Military Mega-Cloud” projects should be aware of, according to Thornton-Trump.  “For people with sensitive data in virtual environments these sorts of exploits need to be considered in the threat model,” he concludes, “for the rest of us, we have far worse issues to deal with.”

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

I’m a three-decade veteran technology journalist and have been a contributing editor at PC Pro magazine since the first issue in 1994. A three-time winner of the BT Security Journalist of the Year award (2006, 2008, 2010) I was also fortunate enough to be named BT Technology Journalist of the Year in 1996 for a forward-looking feature in PC Pro called ‘Threats to the Internet.’ In 2011 I was honored with the Enigma Award for a lifetime contribution to IT security journalism. Contact me in confidence at davey@happygeek.com if you have a story to reveal or research to share.

Source: Microsoft Confirms New Windows CPU Attack Vulnerability, Advises All Users To Update Now

Microsoft Has Some Bad News For Windows 10 Haters

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Windows 10 users are plagued by ongoing problems with Windows 10 updates such as systems freezing, refusing to install if USB drives are present and even dramatic performance impacts on essential software. So perhaps it should come as no surprise that there is a large tranche of users who are refusing to make the move from Windows 7 to the Microsoft operating system flagship. According to the latest market share statistics the number of people still using Windows 7 has remained pretty static month on month. What may well surprise you is that while Windows 10 enjoyed a 44.1% share of the overall operating system market in April, Windows 7 still accounted for 36.43%. That figure hasn’t moved much at all from the 36.9% in December last year.

Microsoft obviously wants everyone to move to the latest generation of Windows and has a double-whammy of bad news for Windows 10 haters I’m afraid. Whammy number one is that Windows 7 will reach its end-of-life status on January 14 next year. Whammy number two is that it will cost you as much as $200 per year to get “extended security support” after that period. Assuming, that is, you are not a home user. I guess you could add a whammy number three in that home users will have absolutely zero options for security support post January 14, 2020.

There are plenty of very good reasons why people are reluctant to make the move to Windows 10: the hardware Windows 7 is running on might not be powerful enough or available storage could be problematical for example, but overwhelmingly it is likely to boil down to a simple dislike of Windows 10. In exactly the same way that Windows XP users steadfastly hung onto that obsolete operating system for years and refused to upgrade to Windows 7, I expect that the same will happen again as Windows 10 haters are “gonna hate” as the saying goes. Yet Windows 7 is fast approaching end of life status when free security support will come to an end. After January 14, 2020 it will cost as much as $200 per year, per PC, to upgrade to extended security support to keep it alive. And as I’ve already mentioned that’s for enterprise users only, there is no such option for home users.

The security question was widely dismissed as fake news by XP users for the longest time. I imagine a great many Windows 7 users will likewise insist it is far more secure than Windows 10. While there hasn’t been another WannaCry to highlight the problems of continuing to use unsupported operating systems, that doesn’t make Windows 7 a secure bet. Just last month Google was urging all Windows 7 users to upgrade to Windows 10 after the discovery of two zero-day vulnerabilities that could be used in tandem to take over host systems. Microsoft coughed up additional security updates for XP users in the wake of WannaCry, but Windows 7 users shouldn’t be lulled into a false sense of security by that.

I’m not going to explore all the security arguments for upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 10, not least as SentinelOne has done a great job of detailing 32 security reasons to move to Windows 10 over at the Security Boulevard blog. I do, however, urge all Windows 7 diehards to go read that article and ponder the potential consequences of sticking with it. In order to finish this bad news story with some potential good news, it is still possible to upgrade to Windows 10 for free if you are a Windows 7 user despite the original Get Windows 10 offer expired in 2016. It’s a little convoluted and involves the Microsoft media creation tool, a USB (or DVD) drive and a pinch of luck, but you can find the full instructions here.

Please follow me on Twitter or connect with me on LinkedIn, you can find more of my stories at happygeek.com

I have been covering the information security beat for three decades and Contributing Editor at PC Pro Magazine since the first issue way back in 1994.

Source: Microsoft Has Some Bad News For Windows 10 Haters

Microsoft Confirms Change To Windows 10 Passwords That Nobody Saw Coming

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Ask a bunch of security professionals what makes a secure password and you’ll get a bunch of different answers. Some will argue that it’s all about length, others that randomness and complexity are king while everyone will agree that password reuse is never acceptable.

Some will still argue that giving passwords an expiry date, after which they must be changed, is an essential part of the business security policy picture. It would appear that, with the arrival of the Windows 10 May update, Microsoft is finally no longer going to be amongst that latter group. According to Aaron Margosis, a principal consultant with Microsoft, Windows 10 will no longer recommend “ancient and obsolete” periodic password expiration in the security baseline settings starting with the May update.

While being most welcome, it has to be said nobody I have spoken to in the information security business saw that coming. Not least as the arguments for password expiration have been comprehensively dismantled for some years now yet Microsoft has not shown any inclination to jump from this particular sinking security ship.

The security baseline configuration has been part of the Windows staple diet for organizations wanting secure operating system settings out of the box for many years. It is actually a whole set of system policies that make good sense as a starting point for secure postures for many and as the default positioning for some. Things become problematic for organizations when they undergo an audit which uses the Microsoft security baseline and penalizes them for non-compliance if they have something other than the current 60 day Windows password expiration default maximum.

Yet, as Margosis writes “recent scientific research calls into question the value of many long-standing password-security practices such as password expiration policies, and points instead to better alternatives such as enforcing banned-password lists and multi-factor authentication.”

The United States National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) has been recommending password expiration is dropped from security policy since 2016. Now it seems that Microsoft has finally caught up and will be dropping the requirement starting from Windows 10 (1903) and Windows Server (1903) onward. This makes perfect sense to me as someone who has been following information security trends for the best part of three decades.

Things have changed over those years, not least the technology that now enables threat actors to crack simplistic passwords in the blink of an eye. Forcing users to change passwords over relatively short timeframes inevitably leads to those users choosing the simplest, and therefore most memorable, passwords possible. Stand up everyone who has never seen incremental numbering of short passwords in a corporate environment. I’m guessing everyone is still sitting down.

The days of simplistic passwords changed often are long gone, replaced by longer and more complex ones which don’t expire but rather are reinforced with those banned password lists and multifactor authentication for example. “While we recommend these alternatives, they cannot be expressed or enforced with our recommended security configuration baselines,” Margosis says “which are built on Windows’ built-in Group Policy settings and cannot include customer-specific values.” What Microsoft isn’t doing is changing baseline requirements for minimum password length, history, or complexity.

It also isn’t stopping organizations from configuring password expiration if they must, for regulatory compliance reasons for example. “The password-expiration security option is still in Windows and will remain there,” Margosis says, adding “by removing it from our baseline rather than recommending a particular value or no expiration, organizations can choose whatever best suits their perceived needs without contradicting our guidance.”

Please follow me on Twitter or connect with me on LinkedIn, you can find more of my stories at happygeek.com

I have been covering the information security beat for three decades and Contributing Editor at PC Pro Magazine since the first issue way back in 1994.

Source: Microsoft Confirms Change To Windows 10 Passwords That Nobody Saw Coming

Microsoft Launches Azure Blockchain as a Service (BAAS) in India – Richard Kastelein

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Microsoft launched Azure Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) in India last week. The platform provides a rapid, low-cost and low-risk platform for organizations to collaborate together by experimenting with new business processes, backed by a Cloud platform.

“In India, the availability of Microsoft Azure BaaS from local, hyper-scale datacentres will help enable blockchain adoption in regulated sectors like banking and financial services, insurance and healthcare as well as governments,” Peter Gartenberg, General Manager, Enterprise and Partner Group, Microsoft, said in a statement

Blockchain is a data structure used to create a digital transaction ledger which, instead of resting with a single provider, is shared among a distributed network of computers.

The Azure marketplace has eight blockchain partner solutions enabled via single-click deployment. These include blockchain infrastructure, identity services and self-contained development environments.

Microsoft has been integrating the Solidity language into development tools such as Visual Studio to enable rapid development of next generation decentralized applications on blockchain, the company said.


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Microsoft Releases Cloud-Based Azure Blockchain Development Kit – Ana Alexandre

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American software corporation Microsoft has released a serverless blockchain-powered Azure development kit, according to an announcement published Nov. 15. The new product dubbed the “Azure Blockchain Development Kit” purportedly improves the capabilities of Microsoft’s Azure Blockchain Workbench. It contains features like off-chain identity and data, monitoring, and messaging application programming interfaces (API) in a format that can be used to develop blockchain-based apps. Per the blog post, the initial release will focus on three core objectives, such as “connecting interfaces, integrating data and systems, and deploying smart contracts and blockchain networks…………

Read more: https://cointelegraph.com/news/microsoft-releases-cloud-based-azure-blockchain-development-kit

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Bill Gates Loves These 4 Learning Hacks – Zack Friedman

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Bill Gates knows a thing or two about hacking. When it comes to learning hacks, in particular, here are a few of his favorites. Put simply, learning hacks are a quick way to get great information in a short amount of time. If you are – or want to be – a digital learner, there are multiple resources available online for you to increase your skill set and intellectual capital. Gates is a big proponent of coding – and thinks it’s worth your time to learn how to code (even if on a basic level)……

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2018/09/06/bill-gates-learning-hacks/#6ff974fa6c0e

 

 

 

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Microsoft Launches $22 Xbox Console Subscription Service

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As reported last week (details below), Xbox All Access gives gamers access to an Xbox One console, Xbox Live Gold, and Xbox Game Pass in return for 24 monthly payments. However, the pricing is lower than expected and it’s set up in the same way as smartphone payment plans work.

If you want an Xbox One S, Microsoft will charge $22 per month for 24 months. That’s cheaper than buying an Xbox One S outright and subscribing to Live Gold and Game Pass separately. At the end of the 24 months, you can keep paying for access to the services, but you then own the console. If you want an Xbox One X instead, the price rises to $35 per month. If you end the contract early, you pay Microsoft the outstanding monthly payments owed in order to keep your Xbox.

— Read on straylitemedia.com/2018/08/31/microsoft-launches-22-xbox-console-subscription-service/

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Microsoft Reportedly Working on Amazon Go-Like Cashier-Less Technology – Taylor Soper

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Amazon isn’t the only Seattle-area tech giant that wants to change how we pay for items at the grocery store. Microsoft’s business AI team is developing automated technology that tracks what shoppers put in their cart, according to a report from Reuters, which said that the company is in talks with retailers including Walmart about implementing the software.

When contacted by GeekWire, a Microsoft spokesperson said “Microsoft does not comment on rumors or speculation.” The cashier-less system would be a direct competitor to Amazon Go, Amazon’s own attempt to reinvent the physical store with the same mindset that brought one-click shopping to the internet.

Amazon debuted the first Amazon Go location at its headquarters in Seattle in December 2016; it opened to the public in January of this year. The company is opening additional Amazon Go locations in Chicago and San Francisco.

At Amazon Go, shoppers check in by scanning their unique QR code while overhead cameras work with weight sensors in the shelves to precisely track which items they pick up and take with them. When they leave, they just leave. Amazon Go’s systems automatically debit their accounts for the items they take, sending the receipt to the app.

Amazon Go is part of a broader push by Amazon into physical retail, including its acquisition of Whole Foods, its Amazon Books stores, and AmazonFresh Pickup locations.

Microsoft, meanwhile, has also been thinking about building technology that improves how customers shop at a physical store. In 2009 it opened its Retail Experience Center at the company’s Redmond, Wash. headquarters.

“The Retail Experience Center features in-store displays of Microsoft consumer products and showcases powerful ways to cut costs, create efficiencies, streamline operations, and promote and sell goods — within the aisles, in the employee break room, at receiving and shipping, at checkout, across the Web, and even at home or on the go,” a press release noted.

Reuters reported that Microsoft is working with six partners that are building cashier-less related technology using the company’s Azure cloud service. The company has also hired a computer vision specialist who worked on Amazon Go.

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