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I’ll be honest: I’d sort of forgotten that THQ ever contracted Crytek for a Homefront sequel. I’d definitely forgotten that Crytek then purchased those rights when THQ went bankrupt just so they could finish creating said sequel.

Even more of a surprise? Homefront 2 actually looks pretty interesting.

Defiance

The United States is lost. We’re four years into the North Korean occupation of American soil. They’ve set up their base of operations in Philadelphia, squatting on the birthplace of independence.

You’ll take on the role of Ethan Brady, described to us as an “average guy.” The words “not militarily trained” were also thrown around. You’re a resistance fighter—a guerrilla supplementing a rudimentary knowledge of firearms with your ability to blend into a crowd, hide in plain sight, and cause chaos.

Chaos like “attaching a bomb to an RC car, driving it towards a prison, and blowing the doors off.” Then shooting a dozen North Korean guards with a military-grade assault rifle Brady had hidden in his coat. Then sprinting off towards a safe house, murdering anyone in pursuit.

Yes, like every other time we’ve heard the words “average guy” thrown about in regards to a video game character (I’m looking at you Nathan Drake), Ethan Brady sets a pretty high bar for average.

Homefront 2 also looks like it’ll push the same boundaries of good taste as its predecessor. Whether that’s a good thing or not…well, I’ll leave the jury out until I see more of the game. One thing you cannot accuse Homefront of doing is glorifying war in any way.

Oh no, what have you done? Homefront 2’s treatment of Molotovs is perhaps the most chilling I’ve seen in any game. I felt uncomfortable listening to the screams of the North Korean soldiers, even if they were the “enemy.”

There are a few baffling facets I hope are explained better upon release. You use your cell phone a lot: for tagging enemies, looking at a map, directing your RC car around, et cetera. I’m no dictator, but if I were, I think disabling civilian access to cell phones would be my first order of business. You’re telling me our society has reached a point where all electricity is run off generators, cars are uniformly destroyed hunks of metal on the side of the road, buildings are crumbling, and people are tending to food in communal gardens, but our cell phones still work?

For that matter, where the heck is this limitless supply of RC cars coming from? Did the bombs hit all the buildings in town except the Toys ‘R’ Us? It’s a Christmas miracle!

Despite these nitpicks (and some early-in-development frame rate issues), I’m excited. It feels weird to be excited about a sequel to Homefront, but I am. There are some decidedly game-y aspects, such as scoring “Uprising points” for disabling cameras, but all in all it seems like Crytek is exploring some interesting concepts in Homefront 2. After years and years of rah-rah-shoot-em-all military shooters, I’m curious about any game that promises to upend that formula.

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Andrew Bacevich On The New American Militarism

Andrew Bacevich on the new American militarism International relations professor will discuss today how war seduced America

CAS International Relations Professor Andrew Bacevich. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

Andrew Bacevich is the author of the recent book The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War. The CAS professor of international relations will examine the trends that brought about a revival of the prestige of the U.S. military in a discussion on Tuesday, October 18, at 4 p.m. at the African-American Studies Center Library, 138 Mountfort St., Brookline, on South Campus.

Bacevich is a former U.S. Army colonel and a former director of BU’s Center for International Relations. His previous books include American Empire: The Realities and Consequences of U.S. Diplomacy (2002) and The Imperial Tense: Problems and Prospects of American Empire (2003).

He spoke with BU Today recently about his book and the upcoming talk, which is free and open to the public.

In your book, you assert that during the past three decades both Democrats and Republicans came to believe in the overwhelming power of our military — that America is preoccupied with military might. Do you think this attitude will change?

Is it possible that Americans will wean themselves from their current infatuation with military power and become once again skeptical of it? Yes, it might happen as we evaluate the consequences of U.S. policy. Are we going to end up thinking that the Iraq war was worth it — or are we going to end up thinking Iraq was a disaster? The notion that our involvement in Iraq was reckless and a mistake — if that interpretation takes hold, then it seems to me that the American people generally, and our leaders more specifically, will probably be somewhat more skeptical about using military power in the future.

On the other hand, if we take the view that this was a necessary war — that it was a war of liberation, one that has made us more secure — in the long run we’re in danger of pursuing policies that, at least in my judgment, are misguided with regard to military power. How we, as a people, digest and make sense of Iraq is going to have a large influence on the way we think about military power in the future.

So the outcome of the war will dictate our foreign policy for years to come?

It depends not only on how the war goes, but on how it’s interpreted and how it’s incorporated into our national story. This part of the story will initially be told by the press, and then historians will take up the cudgels and fight with one another over the meaning of the war. That kind of argument tends to yield a certain consensus. For example, as a people, we’re not at odds with one another about the meaning of World War I any longer. There was a time when that was a tremendously contentious issue, but finally an agreement emerged and basically has remained intact for the last 50 years or more. So there will be a big argument in the press and also among historians about the meaning of the Iraq war, and how that argument plays itself out will probably affect not only the way we think about the Iraq war specifically, but how we think about our global military power in general.

What do you think of the opinion that since 9/11 the Bush administration has imposed on us a new set of attitudes about military power — and that this has led to the Iraq war?

The phenomenon that I call ‘the new American militarism’ has been a long time coming, and it doesn’t simply reflect the belief that there is some kind of conspiracy involving the Bush administration. It reflects the way important groups in American society responded to the 1960s and the Vietnam War. Their response focused on rebuilding and in many respects celebrating military power. And that effort succeeded, so that by the time we get to the 1990s, there is this infatuation with power — this great confidence that the American armed services can do just about anything. There is a conviction that we figured out the secrets of high-tech warfare, which can be counted on to achieve a swift and economical victory in almost any circumstances. All of that is getting tested in Iraq. If you have my perspective, the test is not going very well.

You have pointed out that your book isn’t a passivist tract — that military force is sometimes necessary. When should force play a role?

Force is a useful instrument, but also an instrument that’s difficult to control. When you use it, you frequently tend to also bring about consequences other than those you intended. We rightly entered World War II to fight against Germany, and we succeeded in defeating Germany, which was a necessary and good thing. But as one consequence of that, Soviet dominance extended over Eastern Europe, which became part of a Soviet empire for 50 years. That was an unintended consequence of a necessary war, so you should use force with a lively awareness that you may get a lot more than you bargained for, and therefore you should use force only when it’s absolutely necessary.

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7 Truths That Open Source Struggles With

Open source development has consistently proved many ideas that were once considered impossible. For instance, thanks to open source, we now know that people can be motivated by more than money, and that co-operation can be more effective in some aspects of development than competition.

Personally, I get a lot of self-satisfied glee each time that open source undermines yet another “fact” that everyone knows.

However, just because open source has consistently confounded common expectations does not mean that it is always right. There are at least seven assumptions that many in open source continue to believe, often in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary:

When you start to study usability, the tone of academic studies can deceive you into thinking that interface design is a matter of objective principals. Apply the principals, the belief goes, and any interface you design will be effective.

However, design is not so simple. For one thing, usability experiments generally involve far too few people to be representative of anything. Even more important, the success of a design is only as good as the assumptions that you start with.

For example, if you start with the assumption that most users only have one window open at a time, your interface is likely to be awkward for those who regularly open multiple windows. Yet, unless you realize that GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out) is as true for design as programming, you can easily assume that the single-window design must be best, because it is based on established principles.

When GNOME 3.0 was released, promotional material emphasized its lack of clutter. The lack of clutter was supposed to allow users to focus, creating “the best possible computing experience.”

Unfortunately, the lack of clutter translated as no applets on the panel, and no icons on the desktop. The protest was massive, and over the next few releases, GNOME gradually relaxed its basic design principles to permit a bit of clutter.

By contrast, the painter application Krita clutters its editing window with as many features as possible so that they are always available. The result can feel like you have been seated in the cockpit of a jet, yet once users learn the features, many prefer Krita to GIMP, which by comparison hides many of its features.

The users of other operating systems may have other priorities. However, the recent history of the Linux desktop suggests that its users value the ability to do things their way more than anything else.

During 2008-2012, GNOME, Ubuntu, and Unity all introduced desktop environments that offered limited customization. The results? GNOME received massive complaints and lost users, and Unity took several years to even start to become available as an option in non-Ubuntu distributions. As for KDE, it only survived by restoring the accustomed customization over several releases.

Meanwhile, Linux Mint introduced two new desktops: MATE, a fork of the highly customizable GNOME 2, and Cinnamon, an entirely new desktop that uses GNOME technology. The odds of two new desktops becoming popular ten years after GNOME, KDE, and Xfce first appeared seemed unlikely, yet Linux Mint thrived –largely because it consults users and most of the new features in each release give users additional choices.

Like programmers in general, open source developers generally ignore documentation. Although the importance of documentation is often stressed in recent years, few projects make technical writers part of the development team, or take the time to ensure that documentation is complete before a release. Even in projects that pay attention to documentation, such as LibreOffice, technical writers often work in a sub-project that has limited interaction with developers and is frequently a release or two behind the software.

Users like to boast that Linux is more secure than Windows. And it is true that, like most UNIX-like systems, Linux is built for security, mainly because it was designed as a multi-user system.

However, whether recent versions of Windows are as insecure as earlier ones is uncertain — although, from long habit, Windows users do tend to have unsecure habits, such as running administrator accounts all the time.

But, more to the point, distributions can relax security. Today’s average distribution is almost certainly more relaxed than those of 1999, which often did not even allow regular accounts to auto mount external devices.

Moreover, if you want to see just how wide open a Unix-like system can be, take a look at the average Android phone or tablet’s default settings. You can secure them, but the process takes hours, and requires that they be rooted if you want to do a thorough job. Yet many Linux users continue to call such self-evident facts FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt, or misinformation).

Breaking Open The Unknown Universe

The proton is a persistent thing. The first one crystallized out of the universe’s chaotic froth just 0.00001 of a second after the big bang, when existence was squeezed into a space about the size of the solar system. The rest quickly followed. Protons for the most part have survived unchanged through the intervening 13.8 billion years—joining with electrons to make hydrogen gas, fusing in stars to form the heavier elements, but all the while remaining protons. And they will continue to remain protons for billions of years to come. All, that is, except the unlucky few that wait in a tank of hydrogen gas 300 feet beneath the small Swiss town of Meyrin, a few miles north of the Geneva airport. Those—those are in trouble.

By the time you read this, a strong electric field will have begun to strip the electrons away from the protons in that hydrogen gas. Radio waves will push the protons, naked and charged, forward, accelerating them through the first of what can reasonably be called the most impressive series of tubes in the known universe (Internet be damned, Senator Stevens). The tubes in this Large Hadron Collider (LHC) have one purpose: Pump ever more energy into these protons, push them hard against Einstein’s insurmountable cosmic speed limit

c

.

And then, the sudden stop. Head-on, a single proton will meet a single proton in the center of a cage of 27 million pounds of silicon and superconducting coils of niobium and titanium. And it will cease to be. These protons will collide with such tremendous energy, so much focused power, that they will transmute. They will metamorphose into muons and neutrinos and photons. All of that, for our purposes, is junk. But about once in a trillion collisions—no one knows for sure—they should turn into something we have never before observed. These protons, these nanoscopic specks of matter that together bear the energy of a high-speed train, will reach out into the hypothetical and bring a little bit of it back.

We have some good guesses about what they will become. They could turn into a missing particle called the Higgs boson—thus completing, through actual observation, the Standard Model of the universe, which describes everything yet known. Or they might vanish into dark matter, and so satisfy the demands of the astronomers who have for decades observed that the universe is suffused with mass of unknown origin and composition. Or—and this is what everyone is really hoping for—these transmuting protons will defy our imagination. They will show us the unexpected, the unanticipated, the (temporarily) unintelligible. The humble proton, just maybe, will surprise us.

Blank Fate: Think of the 15-million-pound Atlas detector as a giant camera that can take pictures of dark matter

Down the Rabbit Hole

Access granted. We wait at the elevator with stocky contractors in T-shirts and dirty work pants—murmurs in Polish and French, wary looks at the reporter’s notepad, the red hard hat reserved for visitors—then climb in, and hit the button for floor –1. We are going to Atlas. The detector. The center. The collective work of tens of thousands of physicist-years, which is still, it quickly becomes apparent as we emerge through the concrete corridor and hear the first sharp pings of hammers on steel that echo throughout the chamber, not quite finished.

Though it’s often compared to the interior of Notre Dame cathedral, the chamber looks less like a gothic sanctuary than it does the phaser room on the Starship Enterprise. There’s an 80-foot high, 15-million-pound rolling pin of silicon and steel parked in the center, and it looks ready to fire. Except down here, the firing happens in reverse. In a month, once liquid helium cools the magnets down to 1.9 degrees Kelvin above absolute zero (that’s –456°F), beams of near-light-speed protons will race not out, but in, meeting in the detector’s center. (There is another equally sensitive detector, CMS, five miles away across the French countryside. The two groups will double-check each other’s work and provide a bit of friendly rivalry as to who can discover what first.) The collision will concentrate all that speeding energy in an infinitesimally small space. And then that ball of pure energy will become something else entirely. “By Einstein’s

E = m2

, you can make particles whose mass is less than the amount of energy you have available,” says Martinus Veltman, a physics professor at Utrecht University in the Netherlands and a Nobel laureate. Energy becomes mass. This, in a nutshell, is why the protons need to go so fast—with more energy, the LHC can summon ever-heavier particles out of the ether. And the heavier particles are the interesting ones. The heavy ones are new.

Light Reading: Astronomers can make dark matter by tracking how it distorts the light from distant galaxies

Darkness Doubles Down

Here’s what we know about what the universe is made of: We have the ordinary, common matter, like protons and electrons. In addition, there’s all the stuff that transmits a force, like photons of light, or gravitons, which pull heavy objects together. That’s the universe—matter and force—and physicists have spent the past 60 years or so uncovering the details of how all the matter particles and the force particles interact. The totality of that work is called the Standard Model of particle physics, and any particle physicist will tell you that it is the most successful theory in the history of human existence, powerful enough to predict the results of experiments down to one part in a trillion.

And yet the Standard Model is almost certainly not the whole picture. While particle physicists have been busy constructing the Standard Model, astronomers and cosmologists have been working on another task, a giant cosmic accounting project. What they see—or, more precisely, don’t—is a clear sign that there are far more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of by the Ph.D.s.

If you go out and count up all the stars and galaxies and supernovae and the like, you should get an estimate of how much total mass there is in the universe. But if you estimate the mass another way—say, by looking at how quickly galaxies rotate (the more mass in a galaxy, the faster it spins) or by noting how galaxies clump together in large groups—you will conclude that the universe has much more mass than we can see. About five times as much, by the latest reckoning. Since it can’t be seen, we call it dark matter.

Here’s the problem: These unknown dark-matter particles—there’s no column in the Standard Model for them. Another problem is that not even the people who came up with it think the Standard Model is the whole story. “The theory raises so many new questions,” says David Gross, who won a Nobel Prize in 2004 for his work on the Standard Model, “that we are convinced it must be incomplete in some way.” Sure, the model correctly predicts the outcome of experiments. But it is not, in the deep way that physicists want it to be, pretty.

To make the Standard Model work, there needs to be much fine-tuning, a dirty word to physicists because it implies arbitrarily tweaking lots of little variables in order to make everything come out right. Much better, physicists would argue, to have everything balance out naturally. As Dan Hooper, a physicist at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois, concludes in his new book Nature’s Blueprint, “The Standard Model as we understand it is ultimately unstable and is in desperate need of a new mechanism to prevent it from falling apart.”

Enter supersymmetry, one helluva “mechanism.” Supersymmetry posits that every particle is only half the story—that every particle has a hidden twin. Remember how the universe is split into matter and force? The core idea of supersymmetry is that every matter particle has a twin force-carrying particle. Same goes the other way: Every force particle has a twin made of matter. Matter and force, in one sense, are just two manifestations of the same thing.

How does this work in practice? Electrons give rise to selectrons (as in, supersymmetric electrons), and photons beget photinos (don’t ask). The extra particles, each heavier than its twin, automatically balance out the Standard Model, no fine-tuning needed. But perhaps more important, these particles, were they to exist, could very well be the hitherto invisible dark matter. The universe swarms with squarks, winos and neutralinos, and these supersymmetric particles are just heavy enough and just common enough to outweigh the “normal” stuff by a factor of five to one. Cosmology, meet particle physics.

Of course, for this to make any sense, the LHC first needs to find a supersymmetric particle. And here’s the catch: Even if the LHC makes a supersymmetric particle—two protons come together with enough energy to make, say, a neutralino—that particle will still be invisible. It will pass through the walls of the detector and down into Earth’s crust and back out into space. Invisible means it doesn’t interact with ordinary matter, and ordinary matter is the only thing we can build detectors out of.

So what happens? How can we tell? Well, we look very closely. When two protons come together, they will generate a shower of particles. Most of them will be ordinary particles, and the detectors will catch these. Then the scientists will look for what’s missing. “It’s a bit like the Sherlock Holmes story where the most important clue is the dog that doesn’t bark,” says John Ellis, a theorist at CERN. If lots of stuff comes out going one way, there has to be an equal amount of stuff going the other way—it’s just the law of conservation of momentum. Count up what you have, subtract that from what you started with, and voilà, you could find yourself with a fleeting glimpse of dark matter. Or at least, its absence.

Vintage Store: The quickest, cheapest, most reliable way to store all that data? Tape drives, same as in the 1970s

The Data Junkies

Back in the cavern that holds Atlas, physicist/tour guide Steve Goldfarb stands on a gantry 50 feet above the floor and traces in the air an imaginary track of an imaginary particle that has just spawned from a collision. “The whole idea of building such a huge detector,” he says, “is to be able to draw a very precise line.” Tellingly, the line he draws curves across the room.

Both Atlas and CMS generate magnetic fields so intense that “if you drove a bus in here and if you turned on the magnetic field, you would crush the bus,” says Phil Harris, a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who shows me around CMS the following day. (Graduate students are considered the do-it-all grunt workers of any enormous project like this. Harris’s buddy Pieter Everaerts, another MIT grad student, told me that one of their main jobs was to “go down [into the detector] to look for the blinking lights” that may indicate a faulty connection. Harris, for his part, has spent months building a database to keep track of the thousands of cables that carry data up and out of the machine. The LHC: where America’s best and brightest go to label cables.)

Bus-crushing, despite its indisputable awesomeness, is not on the agenda here. Rather, the point of all these superconducting magnets is to make everything curve. When the two protons collide, the shower of debris they create will not, unlike the cables in the detector, come with labels. Harris and Everaerts and the 2,000 other scientists who work on CMS have to figure out what each particle is. Since a magnetic field bends the path of a charged particle, you can measure how much each particle curves and how fast it’s going and deduce its charge and mass. “We need to understand everything,” Harris explains. “Where it was, how much momentum, how much energy.” And do it over and over, for the hundreds of particles that burst from every collision, 600 million times a second.

This, in turn, presents a slight problem with data overload. “We’ll produce about a World Wide Web’s worth of data every day,” says Harris, an excitable 25-year-old who wears his hard hat backward and his pants a good six to eight inches below his waist. Everaerts turns his eyes up, clearly checking the math behind Harris’s boast in his head. “Yes,” he solemnly intones, “though the Web is growing very fast.”

It’s one thing to undertake a massive (but finite) civil-engineering project like the LHC in the space of a decade. It’s quite another to build a new Google every day. “There’s no way that CERN can provide all the computing components,” says Ian Bird, the leader of the LHC Computing Grid. Instead, scientists figured out two ways to get rid of all the excess data.

Fortunately (or not, depending on how you look at it), most of the data the machines collect will be junk. Old news, particles long discovered, phenomena well-explored. Electronics in the detector throw out any collisions that don’t look interesting, which totals about 99.99997 percent of the raw data.

The remaining 200 collisions per second move upstairs to the main computing center, a warehouse with row after row of rack-mounted computers. This is “Tier 0,” in LHC parlance. From here, dedicated fiber-optic cables send a copy of the data to 11 computing centers worldwide, the so-called Tier 1. (The cables comprise the famous “Internet2” you may have heard about a few years ago—all it means is that the scientists get to use these lines, not you.) The Tier 1 computers then calibrate the data and distribute it to hundreds of Tier 2 computing centers. These are individual server farms, the 100,000 PCs spread among universities like Cambridge and Berkeley and Osaka. This is where the eureka moments will happen. By using a distributed system, the collisions underneath a French village can branch out all over the planet to be pored over by 10,000 brains. It is through this structure, just as much as through the magnets or the silicon, that the impossible will be made real.

Model Student: Inside the office of John Ellis, theoretical physicist at CERN. “SUSY” is short for supersymmetry

Know It All

The history of science is one of hubris. We think we have the natural world pretty much figured out, we think that our theories are pretty darn solid—and then someone does an innocent little experiment, and much to everyone’s surprise, reveals the unfathomable. Never have scientists so self-consciously courted the unknown as they are doing with the LHC. No one thinks the Standard Model will end up being the whole story of the universe, despite its innumerable successes in explaining the world. Physicists know there is more out there, just beyond our reach. “I think of things for the experiments to look for,” says John Ellis, “and hope they find something different.”

“I think we all want to know where we came from and how we fit into the world,” says George Smoot, a cosmologist at the University of California at Berkeley and winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in physics, “but some of us need to know how it all works in great detail.” The 14 years, $10 billion and 10,000 people it took to build the LHC may be taken as simple measures of human curiosity, of how much we’re willing to give to explore where we came from and how we fit into the world. You might wonder why it matters whether supersymmetry is true or not, why it’s important that we find the dark matter. But understanding the universe is power. “Knowing the laws of physics, you know what can be done and what can’t be done,” says Nobel laureate Gerardus ‘t Hooft. “Knowing the laws of physics lets you see the future.”

Measuring the God Particle

The electromagnetic and hadron calorimeters that make up the center of the 49-foot-high, 69-foot-long CMS instrument.

How Heavy is “Heavy”?

The LHC beauty (LHCb) experiment is designed to explain why there is more matter than anti-matter in the universe. To do that, LHCb looks at bottom-quarks—superheavy particles four times the mass of a proton—thrown off in proton collisions. The calorimeter [at right] measures the energy of particles escaping from the collision, which helps determine their identity.

Where the Magic Happens

Located between 160 and 500 feet underground, a 16.57-mile-long chain of magnets guides the proton beams to the four experiment stations. The tunnel was originally dug for an older accelerator called the LEP, which was dismantled by 2001 to make room for the more powerful LHC.

Follow that Particle

Another component of the LHCb experiment is the tracking system. The inner tracker uses a silicon strip to detect particles, while the outer tracker uses tubes of gas. Together, they monitor the paths of the particles as they fly out of the proton crashes. By combining data about the particle velocity along those paths with the energy data from the calorimeter, the researchers can determine the mass and identity of particles flying out of the accelerator.

Into the Physics Cave

The LHC’s six experiments are located deep beneath the Earth’s surface and insulated from a world rife with radioactive interference, making it no easy feat to load all of the enormous equipment into place. The components for each experiment were lowered hundreds of feet below ground through giant tunnels like this one.

Behind the Scenes WIth the Photographer

During his three-day shoot, New York–based photographer Enrico Sacchetti observed more than just the LHC. He was also witness to the international community of scientists that walk the halls of the largest experiment in human history. “They feel like they’re on a quest for mankind,” he says. From the nights out in Geneva to the cliques in the cafeteria, the researchers from around the world gather by project, each group pursuing their research with a sense of competition usually reserved for the football field. See all of PopSci‘s coverage of the Large Hadron Collider at chúng tôi

Microsoft Loop: The Collaboration Revolution Your Team Can’t Afford To Miss

Introducing Microsoft Loop: A Co-Creation Powerhouse

The recently released Microsoft Loop is an all-in-one solution for Microsoft 365 apps that connect your teams, documents, and tasks across all devices and help improve teamwork and collaboration. This co-creation platform is a powerful competitor to the popular workspace app, Notion.

Microsoft Loop’s Unique Selling Point: Real-Time Blocks

One can import and arrange documents, projects, and other objects on Loop’s workspaces and pages. Its standout feature is the ability to convert any page into a real-time block, which can be copied and pasted into Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Word on the web, and Whiteboard. This functionality enables seamless collaboration and ensures that updates to shared components are reflected across all platforms.

Enhancing Teamwork with Microsoft Loop

Microsoft Loop encourages better organizational teamwork by centralizing evolving concepts, content, and resources across various devices and applications. Using Microsoft 365, users can create and develop interactive components in real-time, including:

Table

Checklist

Bulleted List

Numbered List

Task List

Voting Table

Progress Tracker

Person

Emoji Picker

Date

Label

Image

The Three Elements of Microsoft Loop

Loop Workspaces: These collaborative spaces allow you and your team to organize all relevant project information in one place, making tracking progress and monitoring individual tasks easily.

Loop Pages: Found within the Loop app, Loop pages serve as blank canvases for collaboration on components, links, tasks, and data. They can be as compact or detailed as needed, with any Loop page able to be linked to or incorporated into other Microsoft 365 apps.

Advantages

Microsoft has the ability to revolutionize the way the team collaborates on projects; let us find out how:

Seamless integration with Microsoft 365 makes it easy to incorporate into your existing workflow.

User-friendly interface that requires little to no training, making it accessible for all team members, regardless of their technical abilities.

Offers customizable templates that can be tailored to specific workflows and tasks, streamlining the collaboration process.

It is available on both desktop and mobile devices.

Offers enterprise-level security, including data encryption and access controls, ensuring your data is safe and secure.

Limitations

Microsoft Loop has some limitations, including:

Available only for work and school accounts (Azure Active Directory accounts) and personal accounts (Microsoft accounts).

It has a limited workspace size of 5 GB

It may not be as compatible with non-Microsoft tools or platforms, limiting its usefulness for teams that use various software.

Users can create up to only 5 workspaces.

It is a cloud-based tool, meaning a stable internet connection is necessary to access and collaborate on documents. This can be a limitation for teams that work in areas with unreliable or slow internet connectivity.

Workspaces can have a maximum of 50 members, which can be difficult for larger teams.

Notion-like Interface and Features

The main interface is reminiscent of Notion, a widely-used workspace app adopted by companies like Adobe, Figma, and Amazon. In Loop pages, you can use the “/” command to add labels, images, emojis, tables, and more directly within your text, while the “@” shortcut allows you to link suggested files or tag coworkers and friends.

Integration with Microsoft 365 Copilot

Microsoft is currently privately testing its new Microsoft 365 Copilot system within Loop, further enhancing its collaborative capabilities.

Microsoft’s AI-Powered Assistants: DALL-E, ChatGPT, and Bing Copilot

Recently, Microsoft launched Bing Copilot, an AI assistant integrated with Microsoft Office and the Bing search engine. With the inclusion of AI-powered tools like DALL-E and ChatGPT,  Bing Copilot generates impressive textual and image results, taking collaboration and productivity to new heights.

Our Say

Microsoft Loop has the potential to transform teamwork and collaboration on projects with its real-time blocks, seamless integration across Microsoft 365 apps, and user-friendly interface. As Loop evolves and develops new features, such as AI-powered assistants, users can expect even greater productivity and efficiency in their collaborative efforts. Loop’s flexible and interconnected features have the potential to bring teams closer together and streamline their workflows, making it well-suited to address the unique challenges of remote and hybrid work models.

Loop’s ability to challenge established competitors like Notion is a testament to Microsoft’s commitment to providing cutting-edge tools that enhance collaboration and streamline workflows. By fostering real-time collaboration, centralizing resources, and providing a unified platform for Microsoft 365 apps, Loop can help companies overcome communication barriers and enhance overall productivity.

As Loop gains traction, it will be interesting to see how it influences the competitive landscape of collaboration tools. It is crucial for users to stay informed about the latest developments and embrace innovative tools like Microsoft Loop. This would help maximize their team’s potential and efficiency. Embracing cutting-edge collaboration platforms like Microsoft Loop is essential for businesses looking to stay ahead in today’s rapidly evolving digital workplace landscape.

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