Microsoft quietly announced two for-business products this week, and they’re brilliant

June Wan/ZDNET

While a large portion of what Microsoft announced at its Surface and AI event today was expected, the company quietly revealed details on two new devices that business users will want to take note of. Neither of these products made the live keynote, but both bring a bit of innovation to the workplace.

Also: Every product Microsoft unveiled at its Surface and AI event today

First up is the Surface Hub 3, the newest version of Microsoft’s workplace collaboration device that’s part interactive whiteboard and part virtual meeting platform. The Hub 3, available in a 50-inch size and a 85-inch size, runs Microsoft Teams and is designed to be a part of a conference room where it replaces traditional television and monitors.

Surface Hub 3 brings a number of new capabilities, Microsoft says, like improved CPU and GPU performance, a variety of stands and wall-mounting options, active linking with two Surface Hub Pens, two microphone arrays and speaker pairings for intelligent audio, and a 4K PixelSense display with anti-glare coating. Perhaps the biggest innovation is the 50-inch version’s smart rotation and portrait mode option that adapts the screen to either be a whiteboard of sorts or a video call depending on the orientation.  

Also new to the latest edition of the Hub is Cloud IntelliFrame, which lets remote meeting attendees see in-person users more clearly with a smart video feed that separates people into Zoom-like boxes. Backgrounds are removed and video sizes are adjusted, meaning remote attendees blend seamlessly with those in person.

Surface 4


In addition to the Hub 3, Microsoft also announced the Surface Go 4 for Business, the company’s smallest detachable two-in-one tablet and laptop. While the Surface Go 4 looks largely identical to its previous generation on the outside, it comes with pretty significant internal upgrades. 

Review: Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio 2 hands-on: Making my MacBook jealous

While the Surface Go 3 had a dual-core Core i3-10100Y chip, the Go 4 comes with a quad-core Intel N200 processor. The 4GB RAM of the 3 is doubled to 8 in the 4, and the storage can be expanded to 256GB, double the previous generation.

The company also touted the Surface Go 4’s improved battery life, microphones, security, and repairability — the last change being something that especially appeals to workplaces trying to make devices last as long as possible.

Microsoft didn’t reveal pricing on either

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Is chasing artificial intelligence genuinely senseless? | This Week in Business

This Week in Business is our weekly recap column, a collection of stats and quotes from recent stories presented with a dash of opinion (sometimes more than a dash) and intended to shed light on various trends. Check every Friday for a new entry.

With a name like “This Week in Business,” the expectation is that we talk about things that happened this week. Things in business, even.

But sometimes expectations go unfilled. And sometimes we plan to write about one thing, but then Unity shoves its foot into its mouth clear up to the knee and we feel obligated to point at the company trying to choke down its own femur and say, “I don’t know, seems like a bad idea?”

So anyway, we’re playing catch-up this week and looking back to two weeks ago at an interview we did with Roblox’s chief technology officer Daniel Sturman about the company’s plans for generative AI.

QUOTE | “It can act as an incredible on-ramp to creators on the platform, but it also can work in a way that can really accelerate existing creators. It’s not a separate thing from Studio. It’s all part of the creator tools we’ve been shipping for years; it’s just accelerating them with the power of generative AI.” – Sturman talks about Roblox’s AI Assistant, a conversational tool that users can ask to pull assets into a project and code behavior for objects in a game.

Right now the AI Assistant pulls assets from Roblox’s Creator Marketplace, but eventually the plan is to roll it out with 3D model creation, so Roblox developers will be able to ask for a model of a car and the AI will generate one that can then be tweaked on command.

Now I have what I think is a healthy skepticism toward AI. I question whether it will ever work the way backers are promising it will. I question whether the people rolling it out – those who swear up and down they want to do it in an ethical and proper way – will ultimately just shed any ethical concerns (and the people responsible for voicing them) as soon as it is financially prudent to do so, just like Amazon/Twitch, Microsoft, and Twitter have done.

I question whether it is even possible to pursue AI in an ethical way, given how

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Which Canadian company was hacked this week? Take The Globe’s business and investing news quiz

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s business and investing news quiz. Join us each week to test your knowledge of the stories making the headlines. Our business reporters come up with the questions, and you can show us what you know.

This week in business and investing: The former chief executive officer of a noted Canadian company came out of retirement to retake the reins of a business she started more than three decades ago, after the previous boss quit – just one year into the gig. The last year has been fairly tumultuous for the company, with leadership shakeups, a cyberattack, the exit of half of its board and competitive pressures in the industry.

Meanwhile, a U.S.-based software company also attempted to bring back former staffers – this time, employees that were part of mass layoffs. The business offered relatively plush perks, as part of its pitch to ex-staffers to return. Elsewhere, borrowing costs remain sky-high, and a Canadian province wants to separate – from the federal pension program, that is.

Do you remember these stories? Take our quiz below to test your recall for the week ending Sept. 21.

1‘If you want to bring in the ______ CEOs and whip them with wet noodles, you can do that,’ Prof. Christopher Ragan said about executives from which industry?

a. Grocery

b. Bank

c. Entertainment

d. Oil and gas

a. Grocery. Prof. Ragan was referring to the move by the federal government to summon grocery chain executives to Ottawa to testify over food inflation (still far above most other components CPI data).

2Founder and former CEO ____ announced she’s coming out of retirement to retake the helm of _____, the company she founded 30 years ago.

a. Arlene Dickinson, Indigo

b. Heather Reisman, Indigo

c. Margaret Atwood, Indigo

d. Arlene Dickinson, Chapters

b. Heather Reisman. It’s the latest in a year of leadership shakeups at the bookseller; in early September, Indigo announced the departure of its CEO and president after just one year in the job.

3The Walt Disney Company said it would be doubling its capital expenditure into its parks division as Disney+ continues to see losses. How much will they invest in parks in the next 10 years?

a. US$33-billion

b. US$100-billion

c. US$60-billion

d. US$50-billion

4Yet another Canadian company was the victim of cyberattacks this week. Which company announced

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The law is whatever Nintendo says it is | This Week in Business

This Week in Business is our weekly recap column, a collection of stats and quotes from recent stories presented with a dash of opinion (sometimes more than a dash) and intended to shed light on various trends. Check back every Friday for a new entry.

Last weekend, the developers of Dolphin announced that they have indefinitely postponed the Wii and Gamecube emulator’s debut on Steam, saying they were informed by the online storefront that Nintendo had issued a cease-and-desist order against them invoking the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

It’s the latest in a string of Nintendo moves targeting the emulation and homebrew communities. It invoked the DMCA in having GitHub pull the repository for Lockpick RCM, software letting Switch users dump their system’s security keys for use in homebrew or emulated software, which in turn prompted the developers of the Android Switch emulator Skyline to halt their work on the project “due to the potential legal risks involved.”

(Another Switch emulator, Yuzu, quickly swooped in to capture Skyline’s vacated audience by launching its own Android version.)

Finally, Nintendo updated the firmware on the discontinued 3DS line of handhelds to thwart the most convenient method of hacking the systems to run homebrew software, dump cartridges, and more.

One possible conclusion from this rash of moves is that Nintendo was understandably not thrilled about the Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom being leaked and played by people using emulators weeks before anyone could legally buy it.

From fumbling around in the darkness to solving problems indirectly with cludgy workarounds, Tears of the Kingdom has a few different parallels to this subject.

None of this is surprising, exactly. After all, emulation and piracy are two circles with an admittedly significant amount of overlap on the industry Venn diagram, and Nintendo has been fighting piracy longer than many of its competitors have even been in the games business, and it is clearly in this fight for the long haul.

QUOTE | “As the piracy itself is underground, someone somewhere finds out the solution to evade our measures. When we shut one hole of the mice, they have dug a new one somewhere else. We have acknowledged that this is an endless battle and we believe the best measure is to keep fighting it technologically and legally.” – In 2009, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata

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