Editor’s note: There is a lot going on in the world of IT, from emerging technologies to digital transformation and new cybersecurity threats. However, we can’t possibly cover it all, so we’ll bring you This Week in IT, a curated summary of IT and enterprise technology news stories each week.
Microsoft launches Microsoft 365 Basic for $1.99 a month
Microsoft is launching Microsoft 365 Basic, a new lower-cost offering to its Microsoft 365 subscription packages, priced at $1.99 a month or $19.999 per year. The plan includes 100 GB of storage, Outlook email and support for help with Microsoft 365 and Windows.
In addition, the company plans to improve the offering with advanced security features such as ransomware recovery and password-protected sharing links in OneDrive later this year. Existing OneDrive 100 GB subscribers will also automatically transition to Microsoft 365 Basic on Jan. 30.
The company also unveiled the Microsoft 365 app, which the company calls the new home for apps and content that allows quick access to apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint and more.
PC market declines sharply
IT analyst firm Gartner says worldwide PC shipments in the fourth quarter of 2022 saw a 28.5% decrease from the fourth quarter of 2021, and were down 16.2% for the entire year.
Analysts cite an anticipated global recession, inflation and rising interest rates, as well as a consumer PC market boom during the pandemic. Enterprises are also slowing their PC spending, with demand among enterprises declining since the third quarter of 2022 as organizations work to extend their PC lifecycles.
The top three vendors in the global PC market remain unchanged, with Lenovo, HP and Dell leading the charge, in that order.
More aviation IT issues
A system failure at the Federal Aviation Administration wreaked havoc across the U.S. Wednesday, as domestic flights were halted for several hours, resulting in more than 10,000 flights being delayed.
According to the FAA, an overnight outage to the agency’s Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) system that provide safety information to flight crews was caused by a damaged database file. There was no evidence of a cyberattack, according to officials and public reporting. CNN reports that when officials first noticed the issue late on Tuesday, they rebooted the system Wednesday morning, but the system took longer to com back online than anticipated
This aviation fiasco comes after an IT issue and outdated systems at Southwest Airlines led to massive flight delays and cancellations over the holidays.
Microsoft’s new VALL-E AI text-to-speech tool
Microsoft has released an artificial intelligence tool it calls VALL-E that can replicate voices. According to Windows Central, the AI was trained on 60,000 hours of English speech data and uses three-second clips of specific voices to generate content.
Windows Central reports that the tool can replicate emotions and tone of a speaker, even when creating a recording of words that the original speaker never said. The tool is currently not generally available.
Google Enhances Google Docs Voice Typing
Google is improving features that enable users to type and edit in Google Docs or Slides by speaking, and present slides with automatic captions to display a speaker’s words in real-time.
The company says the enhancements will help reduce transcription errors and minimize lost audio during transcription, as well as include expanded availability to most major browsers.