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New Brabham BT62 supercar

Microsoft revealed as Brabham Automotive’s technology partner

New Brabham BT62 supercar

Microsoft will play a key role in the development of the £1m BT62 supercar, with the American giant announced as Brabham Automotive’s technology partner.

The use of Microsoft’s enterprise systems will allow the company “to work seamlessly and efficiently across the world,” the firm said in a statement. The computer giant will also assist Brabham with data analytics and driver development, with the owners of the BT62 supercar benefiting from a performance program powered by advanced cognitive technologies.

“Consistent with Brabham’s approach to technology, we will be utilising mixed reality technology for an immersive customer configuration and for current and future product development,” said a spokesperson, a day after the 700hp track-only supercar was unveiled at the Australian High Commission in London.

The BT62 is a carbon fibre supercar powered by a 5.4-litre V8 engine, with a power to weight ratio of 730hp per tonne. Production is limited to just 70 cars, with the first 35 liveried in tribute to each of Brabham’s F1 Grand Prix victories. First deliveries will begin later in 2018.

Speaking at the launch, managing director, David Brabham said, “I set out twelve years ago to re-establish the iconic Brabham name, determined to see it return to global competition. My father had an incredible determination to succeed and, like him, I’ve worked tirelessly through this time, drawing on my experience as a racing driver, leader and mentor, never once losing sight of that goal.

“It’s been challenging at times, but what we have achieved is simply staggering. Today’s unveiling makes me feel incredibly proud as the Brabham legacy enters a new era.”

True to Brabham’s Anglo-Australian roots, the company will have its US, European and Middle Eastern office in the UK, while its Australasian and Asian office will be based in Adelaide, South Australia, where the production of the BT62 will also take place in a 15,000sq. m facility.

Using Skype from a Volvo

You can now Skype from a Volvo

Using Skype from a VolvoVolvo has become the first car maker to equip its cars with Microsoft Skype functionality – so you can now be even more productive when on the move (or stuck in a traffic jam). 

The firm reckons adding Skype for Business will actually boost the safety of its cars. Instead of fiddling with conference call phone numbers and access pin codes, motorists can join the meeting simply by pressing the Skype logo on the touchscreen. 

And in fitting it, Volvo is taking another step towards equipping its vehicles with things to do when cars become autonomous…

The Microsoft Skype deal also includes Cortana functionality. Volvo will explore how to contextually integrate the voice-controlled personal assistant into its cars. 

“Volvo is leading the way in its recognition that the nature of work is increasingly mobile,” said Skype for Business’s Ben Canning. “People need to be productive from anywhere – including their cars.

“We’re thrilled to extend modern meetings to Volvo cars.”

Ford GT racer Forza Motorsport 6

Free Ford GT racer… for Forza Motorsport 6 gamers

Ford GT racer Forza Motorsport 6To mark 50 years of Ford’s 1-2-3 victory in the 1966 Le Mans 24 Hours race, Forza Motorsport 6 gamers are being offered a free Ford GT race car to download for their Xbox One.

Download codes are being sent out now, says Ford, to Xbox Live message inboxes: check your messages to see if you can download your free Ford GT today.

Lamborghini Centenario is cover car of next Forza Motorsport

The free racer is the motorsport version of Ford’s GT supercar, set to race in the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours on June 18.. Ford Chip Ganassi Racing is entering four cars in total – two in the FIA WEC and two in the IMSA Weather Tech SportsCar Championship. All four Ford GTs will run in the GTE Pro class.

In a neat detail touch, the two WEC racers carry numbers #66 and #67, with the IMSA cars bearing the race numbers #68 and #69. Why? Because Ford won Le Mans in 1966, 1967, 1968 and 1969!

“Ford’s 1966 Le Mans victory is the stuff of motorsport legend, and now we’re back to take on the world’s toughest endurance race with our most technologically advanced car ever,” said Henry Ford III, global marketing manager, Ford Performance.

“We’ve worked closely with Forza and Xbox so that millions of Forza Motorsport 6 gamers can experience the excitement of our Le Mans return side-by-side with Ford.”

It’s not the first time Forza Motorsport 6 gamers have been able to get ahead of the rest thanks to Ford, either: the road-going Ford GT car is not only the game’s cover car, it’s also been available to drive in-game since the game launched in 2015.

Nissan EV London Fire Brigade

11 UK businesses lead electric car charge to set ‘new green standard’

Nissan EV London Fire Brigade11 UK organisations are among the first to gain ‘Go Ultra Low Company’ status for their early adoption of electric cars – and one, London Fire Brigade’s car fleet, is to become fully 100% electric later this year.

Launched by the Go Ultra Low campaign, the new ‘Company’ status is intended to help encourage more UK businesses to switch into electric cars. Already, it reports, there are 36% more EVs being registered today than at the same time a year ago.

Greenpeace demands electric car revolution – from the top of Nelson’s Column

The initiative requires companies to demonstrate a commitment for EVs to make up at least 5% of their fleet by 2020 – mirroring the UK government target that EVs will represent 5% of UK new car registrations by then.

One large Go Ultra Low Company, Microsoft UK, has already achieved this: the fleet is 6% EV today, and will be 20% EV by 2017.

“The UK is a world leader in the uptake of low emission vehicles,” said transport minister Andrew Jones, “and our long-term economic plan is investing £600 million by 2020 to improve air quality, create jobs and achieve our goal of every new car and van in the UK being ultra-low emission by 2040.”

Between January to April, 13,065 plug-in cars were registered in the UK, an increase of 30% – and that 36% growth for businesses shows fleets are outpacing the UK average. Two-thirds of electric vehicles currently sold are going to corporate and public sector organisations.

Business car users seem to like them, too. Microsoft UK car benefits manager Katie Colledge-Price explained that Microsoft UK first started offering EVs as company cars five years ago as “we could see the relevance of the new technology and the potential long-term cost savings.

“We’re delighted with the response we’ve had and continue to hear from our employees.”

Lamborghini Centenario

Lamborghini Centenario is cover car of next Forza Motorsport

Lamborghini CentenarioThe Lamborghini Centenario will be the cover supercar of the next Forza racing game – and, when it’s revealed in June 2016, gamers will actually beat Lamborghini owners in getting behind the (virtual) wheel.

Available to millions of racing fans ‘first in Forza’, the Centenario news is the latest move in a successful relationship between Microsoft and Lamborghini.

It’s all the more significant as the limited-to-40, £1.7 million, already-sold-out Centenario is Lamborghini’s prized special edition to celebrate 100 years of founder Ferruccio Lamborghini’s birth.

Lamborghini Forza

“We’re excited to continue our long history of working with Lamborghini and to be part of their 100-year anniversary by celebrating the Centenario as the featured cover car of the next Forza game,” said Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox.

But the figures speak for themselves in explaining why it’s honouring Ferruccio on its latest headline video game, added the tech giant: Lamborghini is the most popular brand in the Forza stable and more than five million gamers have now spent nearly 60 million hours racing them.

That’s why the 770hp Centenario is debuting in Forza rather than on the road: in doing so, it joins 14 other Lamborghinis featured to date in the Xbox One Forza franchise.

As for the game itself, developed by Microsoft partner Turn 10 Studios, the figures are again clear: it’s the best-selling racing franchise of today’s video games console generation, boasting a staggering 10 million unique fans.

And if but a handful of them go on to buy a Lamborghini when they can afford one, well…

Harman Microsoft CES 2016

CES 2016: Harman and Microsoft will bring Office to cars

Harman Microsoft CES 2016Harman and Microsoft are to work together on bringing products such as Microsoft Office 365 into tomorrow’s connected cars to make them more productive, convenient and useful.

A first for Microsoft, the collaboration with Harman announced at CES 2016 aims to make Office 365 products accessible on the move so drivers can work safely while an autonomous car drives itself.

No longer will commuting time be wasted time.

Potential tasks Harman Connected Car Systems and Microsoft Productivity Services want to bring into the car include:

  • Responding to emails
  • Managing events
  • Scheduling meetings
  • Joining conference calls
  • Holding Skype calls

The two tech firms will work on existing cloud-based products and technologies, but also look to create all-new in-car productivity tools.

“Bringing the power of Office 365 into Harman’s connected car systems will provide new productivity solutions and transform the driving experience,” said Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of business development, Microsoft.

“By ensuring that Office 365 services are seamlessly integrated with car and driver telematics and performance data, we will allow consumers to be more productive during their driving hours, while enjoying far greater convenience, safety and reliability.”

Phil Eyler, president, Harman Connected Car, added: “Drivers want an immersive, and personalised experience in the car. Increasingly, that includes strong demands for richer productivity.

“This collaboration will bring these functionalities to market with, importantly, great reliability, security and minimal driver distraction.”

Windows 10: 12 of the biggest improvements

Windows 10: the 12 biggest improvements

Windows 10: 12 of the biggest improvementsIt’s hard to overestimate the importance of the Windows 10 launch today (29 July).

Representing Microsoft’s bold vision of the future of computing, the new version marks a watershed for Windows as an operating system, as its makers switch to a more continuous and incremental upgrade policy, and it’s packed with features designed to help you get more out of your devices.

Here are a dozen things you need to know about Windows 10.

Switch from touchscreens to keyboards

Windows 10: 12 of the biggest improvements

One of the biggest perceived problems with Windows 8 was the awkward way it tried to combine a touchscreen tablet interface with a traditional desktop one controlled by a mouse and a keyboard.

Windows 10 brings with it Continuum, a new feature that detects whether a keyboard is connected and then rearranges and optimises the interface accordingly. On two-in-one hybrid devices you can use Continuum to switch between the two modes almost instantly.

Cortana on the desktop

Windows 10: 12 of the biggest improvements

Cortana is Microsoft’s digital assistant, designed to take on Siri and Google Now head on, but up until now it’s been restricted to Windows Phone. With Windows 10, Cortana spreads its wings to the desktop too, and you can access all of the same features — smart Web searches, intelligent responses to natural language prompts (“remind me to email my wife tomorrow”) and much more.

With Cortana apps on the way for iOS and Android devices too, it’s going to be crucial to Microsoft’s future.

The return of the Start menu

Windows 10: 12 of the biggest improvements

One of the biggest outcries when Windows 8 arrived centred on the removal of the Start menu — or rather its transformation into the Start screen. Microsoft has listened and brought the Start menu back in desktop mode, though tiled, animated apps can still be pinned to it alongside more traditional shortcuts.

When Windows detects you aren’t using a keyboard (see the first improvement we mentioned), the touch-friendly Start screen mode automatically returns as the default.

A brand new browser

Windows 10: 12 of the biggest improvements

It feels like Microsoft has been playing catch-up in the Web browser stakes for a long time now, as young upstarts like Firefox and Chrome steal users away from Internet Explorer.

The company wants to change that with Microsoft Edge, a new browser for Windows 10 (though Internet Explorer will still be lurking in the corner for the benefit of those who still need it): Microsoft Edge is fast, it’s streamlined, and it includes extra features such as the ability to annotate websites as you view them.

New ways to log in

Windows 10: 12 of the biggest improvements

If you didn’t get the memo, passwords are definitely on the way out at last. Windows 10 includes a host of new ways to log into your account when you boot up your computer, including fingerprint reading technology and facial recognition support, so you can definitively prove you are who you say you are.

Which options are available to you will depend on the type of laptop, desktop or tablet you buy, but support for these methods is going to be built right into the software.

Xbox One and Oculus Rift integration

Windows 10: 12 of the biggest improvements

Microsoft is going big on gaming with Windows 10 too: it’s going to work seamlessly with the Xbox One and the forthcoming Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. You’re going to be able to stream and record games live from an Xbox to a Windows 10 machine on the same network, and that’s just the start for console integration.

On the VR side, from next year gamers will be able to plug a Rift headset into a Windows 10 computer and jump into a fully immersive digital world.

Improved apps that run anywhere

Windows 10: 12 of the biggest improvements

Windows Phone’s big flaw has always been its app selection, something that Microsoft wants to fix with Windows 10 — the Mobile version of the platform is going to roll out shortly after the desktop edition. Apps can run seamlessly across all kinds of devices, and Microsoft recently announced tools for developers to make it easier to port apps over from iOS and Android.

In the not-too-distant future, you could be running Instagram, Snapchat and Gmail across every Windows 10 device.

Enhanced desktop features

Windows 10: 12 of the biggest improvements

Desktop users might have felt a little neglected and overlooked when Windows 8 came out, but the focus is now back on the traditional Windows interface with the next edition. Modern, universal apps (which work everywhere) can now be run in windows on the desktop, and it’s possible to snap windows into the corners as well as to the sides of the screen.

Microsoft has revamped notifications too, which now appear on the right-hand side of the display where the Charms bar used to be.

Streamlined settings

Windows 10: 12 of the biggest improvements

Another area where Windows 8 wasn’t quite a successful mix of the old and new was in computer settings.

Thankfully, the integration between the new options pane and the old Control Panel is much more straightforward in Windows 10, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding the settings you’re after: the most important ones are given priority and the more obscure ones are hidden away so you don’t have to worry about them. It makes for a PC that’s much easier to configure.

A companion to your smartphone

Windows 10: 12 of the biggest improvements

Microsoft knows you’re probably not running Windows on your smartphone (at least not yet) so it’s created a whole new Phone Companion app to connect up your Windows 10 PC with an iOS or Android mobile device.

You can transfer files, contacts, music and more with ease, and the aim from Microsoft’s perspective is to get all of its software (OneDrive, Office, Outlook, Skype, Cortana) on your smartphone whether or not you’re actually using Windows 10 Mobile on it.

Free and automatic updates

Windows 10: 12 of the biggest improvements

For the first time, users of the Home edition of Windows aren’t going to get a choice when it comes to installing software updates, and that’s good news for just about everyone. It means your operating system is going to be patched and protected on a regular basis, and there’s less chance of a security vulnerability staying unfixed.

Windows 10 is a free upgrade for the first year that it’s going to be available, and Microsoft has confirmed it’s going to support the operating system for the next five years.

Better OneDrive integration

Windows 10: 12 of the biggest improvements

OneDrive is going to be more important than ever in Windows 10 as Microsoft looks to compete with Google Drive and Apple iCloud. Thanks to the apps available for iOS and Android you can access your photos and files from anywhere, and of course having your files in OneDrive means they’re automatically backed up.

Everyone gets 15GB of storage space for free, and you can pay if you need more (subscribe to Office 365 and you actually get an unlimited amount of OneDrive space).