Microsoft: Activision management under scrutiny to decide who will remain after acquisition

Microsoft: Activision management under scrutiny to decide who will remain after acquisition


Microsoft is evaluating the work of Activision Blizzard's top management and how they are handling the allegations of harassment, in order to determine who should remain in office once the acquisition closes.

At least that's what it said. Brad Smith, the president of Microsoft, who explained in an interview with CNBC that the company wants to improve Activision Blizzard's internal culture and make sure only the right people remain in office once the acquisition is complete.

"If there's one thing we've learned about dealing with problems like sexual harassment or almost any cultural problem, it's that it takes a combination of commitment and humility. You have to work hard to make things better," said Smith. br>
"We are looking to the Activision Blizzard leadership team to make culture and safety at work a top priority every single day, until the day this agreement is hoped to close. And then we will take control and we will have to keep the same commitment. But I also think humility is important. The day you think you have reached the milestone, the day you think you can declare victory, is probably the day you sacrifice the same values ​​you hope to promote. "

Some of the most celebrated brands of Activision Blizzard and that they will become Microsoft once the acquisition closes CNBC asked if "taking control" means creating a new management team for Activision Blizzard. Smith's response was:

"Well what we said is that there will be some aspects that will change, but it will be one new team working together," says Smith. "Above all we want to see the evolution of the culture within Activision Blizzard and how people will behave from now until the day the acquisition is closed, assuming it is approved, and then we can make sure we have the right people in the position. right ".

To which the interviewer retorted with" it seems that people will be put to a thorough examination ". And according to the words of the president of Microsoft, apparently that's just what will happen.

"I think we should all live in a world where we are under scrutiny," replies Smith. "I mean the world is changing, I think for the most part in the positive. It's just another example of where we will best serve our employees if we take the opportunity to make changes."

The acquisition of Activision Blizzard on the part of Microsoft has caused a lot of discussion in the past few weeks and will have a major impact on the future of the industry. However, as confirmed by the Redmond giant, Call of Duty and the other brands of the Irvine house will also be multi-platform in the future.

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Microsoft: We've halved the power used by Teams video meetings to save your PC

Microsoft has been working on improvements to its hit video meeting app Teams to create 'equitable experiences' across cheap and high-end Windows PCs.

Video calls are a key feature of Teams and this is one area Microsoft has targeted to reduce power consumption by cutting the CPU and graphics loads when using a video camera with the app. 

Since June 2020, Teams CPU and memory usage has been halved, according to Microsoft's internal measurements.      

'We're committed to ensuring great calling and meeting experiences for users on low-end hardware as well as those on high-end workstations and high-resolution monitors,' explains Robert Aichner, a program manager at Microsoft Research who focusses on using machine learning to improve audio and video quality.  

'One of the factors we've addressed is the difference in power requirements for different customer profiles by ensuring Teams meetings are as energy-efficient as possible, regardless of setup.'

Microsoft engineers have worked to improve camera-related optimizations to reduce the load on the CPU and improve GPU usage in video meetings, in particular where meetings have over 10 users. It's also worked on simplifying code for automatic features like exposure, white balance, and aliasing. 

Aichner says Microsoft has been testing power consumption for video calls and screen sharing, which generates energy-hungry processes during content capture, encoding, and rendering. 

'Isolating and optimizing each of these processes enabled us to reduce power consumption up to 50% for energy-intensive scenarios such as having over 10 users in a meeting when everyone has their video turned on,' explains Robert Aichner, a program manager at Microsoft Research who focuses on using machine learning to improve audio and video quality.  

Microsoft found out major improvements by redesigning how Teams handles grid videos with multiple participants.

'A simple 3x3 video grid once required nine distinct rendering operations. By combining the streams and composing them into a single video, we have been able to consolidate operations in video rendering and significantly reduce the power requirements for each device used,' says Aichner. 

It also enabled the Teams app to use the device's GPU in both meetings and video previews. Microsoft says will continue to 'work closely with CPU and GPU chipset vendors to ensure the next generation of silicon is further optimized for Teams video conferencing.'

Teams is facing stiff competition from Zoom, Google Meet, Slack and Cisco's Webex and performance is one of the key battle grounds to winning and keeping more users on Teams. Microsoft in January said Teams had 270 million monthly active users and is trying to grow that number through the consumer-focussed Windows 11 Teams Chat button.  

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