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Microsoft preorder

Here’s where you can preorder the Microsoft Surface Duo – The Verge

Microsoft’s dual-screened Android phone, the Surface Duo, will release on September 10th, following close to a year of waiting since its reveal in 2019. It will cost $1,399, but you’ll only pay that much upfront if you buy it unlocked. Otherwise, you’ll owe a smaller monthly payment if you buy it on an installment plan through AT&T or Best Buy.

The Surface Duo can be preordered through the Microsoft Store, and doing so now should ensure that you get it on the release date. Paying $1,399 will get you the Duo with 128GB of storage, while an extra $100 will double that to 256GB of built-in storage. You can choose at the time of checkout to get the unlocked version or a phone that includes an AT&T SIM card.

AT&T will begin accepting preorders for the Duo starting at 12AM ET on August 13th / 9PM PT on August 12th. The 128GB variant will cost $47 per month for 30 months, and the 256GB version will cost a flat $50 per month for a 30-month installment plan.

Note that if you buy the AT&T version, it will be locked to that carrier. The unlocked version can work with AT&T as well as T-Mobile and Verizon. Buying through the Microsoft Store is a good way to get the unlocked version. Best Buy is accepting preorders for the Duo, and you can get either the 128GB or 256GB unlocked phone now to secure it on release day.

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Microsoft Series

Microsoft’s new Xbox Series S console confirmed in leaked controller packaging – The Verge

Microsoft is rumored to be unveiling its second, cheaper next-gen Xbox console this month, and it looks like it will definitely be called Xbox Series S. The Verge has obtained photos of Microsoft’s new next-gen Xbox controller in white, complete with packaging that mentions the Xbox Series S. Twitter user Zak S was able to purchase the controller today, and we’ve confirmed it’s genuine.

The new controller was sold on a resale site today, and the side of the packaging notes that the controller works with both Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S consoles. Microsoft has not officially unveiled an Xbox Series S yet, nor has the company even confirmed a white Xbox Series X controller.

Xbox Series S on the packaging.

A mysterious white Xbox Series X controller also appeared online last month, complete with the new D-pad, textured triggers, and new share button. This new leak matches the previous controller leak, and retail packaging suggests that these could be appearing in stores soon.

The Xbox Series S will likely be Microsoft’s second cheaper next-gen Xbox, that’s been codenamed Lockhart. A Microsoft document, leaked back in June, shed some further light on the company’s plans for two next-gen consoles. Microsoft’s Xbox Series X devkit, codenamed “Dante,” allows game developers to enable a special Lockhart mode that has a profile of the performance that Microsoft wants to hit with this second console.

The Lockhart console is expected to include 7.5GB of usable RAM, around 4 teraflops of GPU performance, and ship with the same CPU found on the Xbox Series X. Microsoft is rumored to be unveiling the Xbox Series S some time in August, and it will likely play a big part of the company’s Xbox All Access subscription plans that bundle an Xbox console and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (Xbox Live and Xbox Game Pass) for a monthly fee.

We’ve reached out to Microsoft to comment on the next-gen Xbox controller leak, and we’ll update you accordingly.

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Microsoft Plans

Microsoft Has ‘No Plans’ to End Xbox Live Gold Service – IGN

Microsoft has said that it has “no plans” to bring an end to its Xbox Live Gold service, despite having discontinued 12 month subscription options.In a statement sent to The Verge, Microsoft said: “We have no plans to discontinue Xbox Live Gold at this time. It is an important part of gaming on Xbox today, and will continue to be in the future.”Xbox Live Gold refers specifically to the paid subscription service that provides access to online multiplayer, as well as monthly free games, on Xbox consoles. The recent discontinuation of 12 month Gold subscriptions, as well as the announcement that Halo Infinite will feature a free-to-play multiplayer suite, fueled speculation that paid-for Xbox multiplayer was soon to be discontinued. However, Microsoft’s statement suggests the Xbox Live Gold service will continue.

The same statement also states that “There are no changes being made to the experience of the service or Xbox Live Gold,” which means we shouldn’t expect Microsoft to pivot Gold into a slightly different service. It would be easy to speculate that perhaps free-to-play multiplayer may not require a Gold subscription, but that seems to not be the current case. All that we can say at the moment is that Xbox Live Gold will continue, but paid for via monthly or 3-month payment plans.

Confirmed Xbox Series X Games

With that in mind, it looks like PC players will be able to take advantage of free Halo Infinite multiplayer, as a Gold subscription is not required for Microsoft’s PC games. Xbox players, meanwhile, will likely need a Gold subscription to play a few rounds of Slayer.

Matt Purslow is IGN’s UK News and Entertainment Writer.

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Microsoft Trump

Trump says Microsoft should pay ‘key money’ to Treasury for facilitating TikTok deal – CNBC

President Donald J. Trump stops to talk to reporters as he walks to board Marine One and depart from the South Lawn at the White House in Washington on July 31, 2020.

Jabin Botsford | The Washington Post | Getty Images)

President Donald Trump said Monday that it could be easier if Microsoft were to buy Chinese-owned TikTok in its entirety, rather than a small part of the social video app, because the name would be split across two companies, and suggested the company should pay the U.S. Treasury as part of the deal.

“I think buying 30% is complicated, and I suggested that he can go ahead, he can try,” Trump told reporters in the Cabinet Room at the White House on Monday. He was referring to his conversation over the weekend with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. The comments come a day after Microsoft confirmed in a statement that it has looked at buying TikTok in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

A larger deal could go beyond resolving the U.S. government’s concern over Chinese control of the app, where hundreds of millions of people share short videos that often feature music.

A transaction of the type the president envisions could also prove more expensive than the one Microsoft described on Sunday. Trump said Monday that part of the amount paid to buy TikTok would have to come to the U.S. Treasury Department because it would be making the deal possible.

“It’s a little bit like the landlord/tenant; without a lease the tenant has nothing, so they pay what’s called ‘key money,’ or they pay something,” Trump said. “But the United States should be reimbursed or should be paid a substantial amount of money, because without the United States they don’t have anything, at least having to do with the 30%.”

Microsoft’s largest acquisition to date is the 2016 acquisition of business social network LinkedIn, at $27 billion. Investors of the privately owned ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok, valued TikTok at $50 billion, Reuters reported last week.

The app will be banned in the U.S. if it’s not sold by Sept. 15, Trump said on Monday. On Sunday, Microsoft said that it wants to conclude talks with ByteDance by that date.

“We believe from a management and board perspective this is a unique deal of a decade opportunity with a price tag that could easily be consummated,” Wedbush analysts led by Dan Ives, who has the equivalent of a buy rating on Microsoft stock, wrote in a note distributed to clients on Monday. Microsoft had $136.53 billion cash, equivalents and short-term investments as of June 30, according to the company’s most recent quarterly earnings report.

Microsoft shares rose 5.6% during Monday’s trading session, which was mostly positive for tech stocks overall.

The rise of TikTok has been part of ongoing U.S. government concerns about China that prompted a trade war. Trump administration officials have argued that TikTok delivers user information to the Chinese Communist Party. TikTok has said “TikTok U.S. user data is stored in the U.S.”

— CNBC’s Steve Kopack contributed to this report.

WATCH: How Microsoft could benefit from buying TikTok

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Microsoft Surface

Microsoft Surface Duo could launch in time to battle Galaxy Fold 2 – Tom’s Guide

Microsoft Surface Duo



(Image credit: Microsoft)

The Microsoft Surface Duo dual-screen Android-powered device looks like it’s gearing up for launch, as it’s been listed on the FCC and has appeared on the Bluetooth SIG certification page. 

While Microsoft has scheduled the Surface Duo to launch at the end of the year, recent rumors have it tipped for a launch in the summer. And 9to5Google reported that the new listings mean the Surface Duo could soon release in the US, and such listings regularly appear just ahead of electronic device launches. 

If it does indeed launch this summer, the Surface Duo will bring a rather odd dual-screen foldable device to the market. Microsoft hasn’t called it a phone, despite preview videos showing it can accept calls and it will be running on a modified version of Android. 

Microsoft seems to envision it as a form of companion device for Windows 10 laptops and PCs. It’s heavily modified version of Android has been designed to deliver a pseudo mobile Windows 10 dual-screen experience, with a whole slew of Microsoft productivity apps shown in videos and images of the Surface Duo. 

Microsoft does have Windows 10X in the works, which is a version of Windows 10 that’s being rejigged to work on dual-screen devices. But that’ll be the operating system to underpin the Surface Neo, a device that’s basically a bigger Surface Duo running Windows natively with an Intel processor; the Surface Duo is expected to use a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8-series chip.

Unlike the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Fold 2, the Surface Duo will not have a foldable display but will instead use two separate screens connected together by a slim neat-looking hinge. That should make it a lot more durable than phones with foldable screens have been so far.

Other specs and features have yet to be revealed. But the Surface Duo will have a selfie camera that can be effectively swiveled using the hinge to point the camera away from the user. And a new slim Surface Pen will also feature for people who want more precise note-taking and doodling on phone screens.

With the Samsung Galaxy Note 20, Pixel 4a and iPhone 12 set to launch in the coming months, the Surface Duo will have a lot of competition for attention. But it’s quite bit different from those devices, so it could stand on its own. We just hope Microsoft has nailed the software experience to make such a foldable device feel like a worthy purchase.

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Microsoft teams

Microsoft Teams opens its doors to third-party apps during meetings – The Verge

Microsoft is allowing third-party app developers to integrate into the Microsoft Teams meeting experience for the first time. The new developer-focused features will let apps integrate into Teams meetings during video calls, and even before and after meetings. Third-party apps will be able to display content during Microsoft Teams calls, and even display notifications during calls. It’s a big expansion of what third-party apps are able to do in Microsoft Teams right now.

“Applications can span across chat and collaboration and easily have a workflow that expands into meetings now,” explains Michal Lesiczka, a group product manager of Microsoft Teams, in an interview with The Verge.

Applications will be able to add a tab to meeting invites where Teams users can interact with the app before a meeting begins. Once a meeting begins, Teams participants will be able to pull apps into the live call. This could include bots that trigger live notifications about events while a Teams meeting is taking place or an app that shows information to participants in the sidebar. The integration also includes the ability for apps to appear as a button in the meeting controls bar.

App integration into the Microsoft Teams meeting sidebar.
Image: Microsoft

Previously, if you wanted to share an app or something more than a webcam in Microsoft Teams, the only option available was screen sharing, which isn’t always ideal if you just want to demonstrate one app or avoid notifications or privacy headaches. These new features will allow developers to extend the meetings experience beyond the basics.

Developers have wanted this type of Teams integration for a long time. “One of the key pieces of feedback is, ‘Okay, we can integrate and enable scenarios in these other areas, but in meetings, we want to be playing there as well,’” explains Archana Saseetharan, a group product manager of Microsoft Teams, in an interview with The Verge. “We are enabling new APIs and SDK capabilities for developers to integrate and target these new areas. It is the same development process, the same publishing process, the same validation process. Everything is the same, but you have these three new capabilities to go target.”

Microsoft Teams meetings also offer a history of chat, files, meeting notes, a whiteboard, and the ability to record and transcribe meetings. The addition of third-party apps means these will also be permanently linked to individual Teams meetings.

“We’ve really seen a ton of excitement about this,” says Lesiczka. “Partners have been asking us about plugging into meetings, so there’s a lot of excitement about this.” Developers will be able to start testing these new app integrations later this month, and Microsoft is already seeing interest from Polly, Open Agora, iCIMS, Miro, and HireVue for apps that will integrate into meetings.

Apps also integrate into a tab in the Teams meeting details.
Image: Microsoft

Like the flurry of other Microsoft Teams features that have been announced in recent weeks, third-party app integration has also been driven by the ongoing pandemic. “The whole focus on remote work has accelerated our delivery on this,” admits Saseetharan. Microsoft is also rolling out a new “Together Mode” that attempts to turn co-workers into virtual avatars to improve meetings.

This Together Mode combined with third-party apps in meetings could lead to an interesting future for Microsoft Teams in the era of remote working. “Every single feature that you see us announcing is to amplify meetings … we’re thinking about extensibility of all of them,” explains Saseetharan. “Everything that Teams is doing has an extensibility play to it, and how we amplify the possibilities for developers to plug more and more deeply into the product.”

If developers do plug into Microsoft Teams more deeply, we could see some innovative new ways to collaborate in future meetings. Microsoft isn’t alone in experimenting with how remote working and meetings will work in post-pandemic scenarios. Facebook also recently teased its own vision of remote work using augmented and virtual reality, and Google is rapidly integrating its disparate Chat, Rooms, and Meet communications platforms into Gmail in an effort to compete with Microsoft Teams and Slack. Even Slack is trying to reinvent the future of business communications with Slack Connect, a more powerful way for businesses to communicate and collaborate with each other.

Microsoft Teams’ new Together Mode.
GIF: Microsoft

Microsoft is moving incredibly fast to keep pace with the competition, and in many areas, combine lots of different functionality into a single app (or “hub” as Microsoft likes to call it). Saseetharan even hints that Microsoft is looking at developer interest in plugging into background effects and filters for Teams video calls.

The pandemic has been the driving force behind Microsoft Teams features in recent months, pushing the service up to 75 million daily active users. Microsoft’s main Teams video calling competitor, Zoom, has also seen huge growth, but it’s had to spend recent months rectifying controversial privacy and security issues rather than rolling out new features.

It’s clear Microsoft has taken its opportunity to push aggressively with Teams, and there’s bound to be a whole lot more Teams features before 2020 is over.

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Microsoft outlook

Microsoft Outlook gets Google Calendar integration on the web – The Verge

Microsoft has been testing deeper Gmail and Google Calendar integrations in Outlook on the web for months, and part of that is arriving for Outlook business users today. Outlook on the web users will be able to add their personal Outlook.com or Google Calendar accounts to an Outlook work account so that you see a better view of your availability when scheduling work appointments.

This new feature is rolling out now to all Microsoft 365 users with a work account, but there’s no news on when Outlook.com users will be able to add Gmail and Google Calendar accounts. Microsoft has been testing this functionality for months now, with it briefly appearing in some Outlook.com accounts.

Outlook’s Google Calendar integration.

Alongside the Google Calendar integration, Outlook on the web is also getting some useful updates. You’ll now be able to schedule when emails are delivered and get suggested replies to emails in Outlook on the web and Outlook mobile. Microsoft is also planning to add suggestions to Outlook mobile for availability and meeting scheduling to let people know when you’re free.

Microsoft is also improving calendar management in Outlook on the web so you can directly triage your calendar within the inbox instead of having to switch between the Outlook inbox and calendar sections. While Teams is directly integrated with Outlook, Microsoft is also adding a one tap button for Zoom and Webex meetings in Outlook mobile. The Cortana “Play my emails” feature is also finally arriving on Android, following its release on iOS last year.

All of the improvements are designed to help make Outlook a little easier to use now that a lot of people are working remotely and scheduling even more meetings on a daily basis.

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Microsoft teams

Microsoft Teams’ new Together Mode is designed for pandemic-era meetings – The Verge

Microsoft is introducing some big updates to Microsoft Teams today. The software giant has been working on a new “Together Mode” for Teams ever since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and it’s designed to create a virtual live avatar of yourself that’s supposed to help you better engage with meetings. Microsoft is using AI to segment your face and shoulders and place you and your co-workers together in a virtual space.

That space could be a meeting room-like environment, a coffee shop, or other places you’d normally have face-to-face meetings. I got a chance to experience this new mode earlier this week. It felt a little gimmicky at first, especially as you can wave at co-workers, tap them on the shoulder, or do virtual high fives. Once you get over the fun or gimmicky parts of it, it actually feels like a far better way to remove visual distractions that you normally see in large gallery views in meetings.

New Together Mode.

I could easily see who was actually talking properly as well as the types of body language from other people in the meeting that can be difficult to pick up on when people are in their home environments or using custom backgrounds.

Microsoft is rolling out this new Together Mode to Microsoft Teams now, and it will be generally available to all users in August. It will debut initially with an auditorium view, but Microsoft is working on more views that will arrive in the future.

Alongside Together Mode, Microsoft is also launching a dynamic view for Teams. It’s designed to allow people to dynamically share content side by side with participants. It sounds like a mode that’s really useful if you’re presenting with a group of co-workers and you want your slidedeck on one side and specific team members’ video to show alongside to all meeting participants.

New dynamic view.

Microsoft is also adding in video filters and live reactions to Microsoft Teams. You can use the filters to adjust lighting levels or soften the focus of the camera to improve your webcam in Teams. Live reactions will allow participants to react with emoji during meetings that will appear for everyone.

Teams meetings will also soon grow to support up to 1,000 participants and even up to 20,000 if people are joining to watch a presentation or discussion. It’s a big jump that will allow a number of companies to handle all-hands calls through Teams. Microsoft is also adding live transcripts to Teams later this year alongside the ability to translate live captions into subtitles so anyone can follow a meeting that’s being held in another language.

If you’re used to using suggested replies in emails, this same feature is coming to Microsoft Teams. The short automated replies will be based on the context of previous messages in channels, allowing Teams users to quickly respond to questions and more. Microsoft is also adding in chat bubbles support later this year so that chats sent during Teams meetings will appear on top of the call so everyone can see them more clearly.

If all of this wasn’t enough for Teams, Cortana integration is even arriving to the mobile version of the app soon. You’ll be able to ask Cortana to make a call, join meetings, share files with colleagues, or even send chat messages.

Microsoft Teams Displays.

Most of these new Microsoft Teams features will arrive in the app later this year, and they’re a clear indication of just how fast Microsoft is responding to competition and an ongoing pandemic that’s shaping how we live and learn.

Microsoft is even recruiting Lenovo and Yealink to create special new Microsoft Teams displays. These dedicated Teams devices will include a touchscreen and hands-free experience through Cortana. Lenovo’s ThinkSmart View will be one of the first Microsoft Teams displays, and it looks similar to the company’s existing Google-powered Smart Displays.

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Microsoft Suspending

Microsoft And Sony Are Suspending Facebook Advertising, But It’s Less Noble Than It Sounds – Forbes

PS5

PS5


Sony

There’s currently a movement among some pretty major companies to remove their advertising from Facebook in the wake of that company’s failure to take action over misinformation and hate speech. While this has resulted in the departure of some large brands, so far it’s amounted to little more than a shrug from Mark Zuckerberg, who believes they’ll all come back eventually.

Two of those companies are major gaming brands, Sony and Microsoft, which are reportedly pulling advertising that includes Playstation and Xbox promotions from Facebook. And yet in both cases, this gesture does not appear to be quite as noble in practice as it initially appears.

In Sony’s case, they made a big public announcement about it:

“In support of the #StopHateForProfit campaign, we have globally suspended our Facebook and Instagram activity, including advertising and non-paid content, until the end of July. We stand for working (and playing) together for good.”

Did you catch that? This already has a set end date on it, the end of July, so this will essentially just be Sony saving some cash on ads for a month. Of course we all know what’s coming after July, and August, September and October will be the ramp-up months to the launch of the PS5, which is almost certainly going to be released in November. And that’s clearly when advertising will be the most important.

The Last of Us Part 2

The Last of Us Part 2


Naughty Dog

It’s a hollow gesture because Sony is literally putting an end date (many of these companies have) on when they’ll come back, proving Zuckerberg’s point, no matter what Facebook does or doesn’t do in order to change the policies this movement is supposed to be protesting against. It makes the entire thing pointless, and in Sony’s case, the ads will be back right when they actually start to matter for PS5 promotion.

But Microsoft’s situation is probably even more sketchy.

While Microsoft did not make a big public declaration about removing ads from Facebook, a report from Bloomberg indicates it has done so all the same, although not in protest of any policy, but rather just not wanting to appear next to controversial topics.

Mixer

Mixer


MS

Of course Microsoft has a very intimate relationship with Facebook, as evidenced by the fact that it just handed off hundreds of thousands of Mixer users to Facebook Gaming. When Mixer was shut down, it announced that all Mixer accounts would convert to Facebook Gaming accounts, representing a massive partnership between the two companies. So yes, I think this is why we haven’t heard any public declarations about advertising from Microsoft directly.

In a perfect world, these companies would pull their ads from Facebook until real change was made on the platform and/or it started to legitimately suffer financially. From what I’ve seen, this campaign does not seem like it’s going to accomplish any of that, and Zuckerberg knows it.

Follow me on TwitterYouTube and Instagram. Pick up my sci-fi novels Herokiller and Herokiller 2, and read my first series, The Earthborn Trilogy, which is also on audiobook.

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Microsoft moment

Microsoft will close out June without a big Xbox 20/20 moment – Eurogamer.net

Series S reveal currently set for August.

In early May, Microsoft laid out its plans for Xbox 20/20, a series of “monthly moments” to reveal details of its next-gen consoles, services and games. May’s 20/20 moment was the episode of Inside Xbox which focused on third-party games. July, meanwhile, was pegged as when we’ll see next-gen games from Microsoft’s own studios.

May’s event had its critics – with Microsoft admitting it had “set some wrong expectations”. But what about June? A day away from the end of the month and with no further mention of Xbox 20/20, it should perhaps come as no surprise to hear Microsoft does not have a big reveal still tucked up its sleeve for tomorrow.

All Microsoft said publicly on its Xbox 20/20 plans for this month was a vague comment from Xbox marketing exec Aaron Greenberg that the “June news will be done differently than [an] Inside Xbox show”.

Microsoft has spent June recapping Xbox Series X details in a series of Xbox Wire blogs. The content has largely been about features we knew about already, such as game optimisation on Xbox Series X, Smart Delivery, and… a round-up of everything else announced so far. The month’s biggest Microsoft “moment” was, arguably, the surprise it was killing streaming service Mixer to work with Facebook Gaming instead. It’s fair to say that was not Microsoft’s intended next-gen marketing beat.

So what happened here?

Eurogamer understands June was, months ago, when Microsoft had planned to reveal its second next-gen console: the lower-powered Xbox Series S, codenamed Lockhart. Microsoft is still to officially acknowledge this console exists, although public evidence of it is now getting increasingly difficult for the company to ignore.

The original plan was to showcase the Xbox Series S as part of Xbox’s big E3 2020 show, so the proposition of a cheaper next-gen option could be explained properly, sat alongside the graphical powerhouse provided by the beefier Series X, both playing the same next-gen games.

But when E3 was cancelled and remote working hindered progress on various internal game projects, it became clear Microsoft could no longer show both its boxes and next-gen games all at the same time. It had to rethink the timeline for all these plans, and instead opted to spread its reveals over a longer timescale – something the company publicly branded Xbox 20/20.

Earlier in the month, Venturebeat’s Jeff Grubb reported Microsoft was now saving a big June announcement for August (which is when Eurogamer also understands Xbox Series S will finally be revealed). This prompted a carefully-worded response from Greenberg stating the company had “not pushed anything back“, and that its next big digital show was still July.

The argument here seems to be whether Series S was still a June announcement for Microsoft after Xbox 20/20 was detailed. The lack of any other big reveal would appear to suggest so, though I’ve heard from others in Microsoft who say not – that June was always supposed to be a quieter month for announcements, and the idea of a “moment” for June was always a little out of step with reality. I also understand Microsoft’s June plans were made quieter still as the company shuffled its cards yet again to accommodate the real-world events dominating headlines.

Of course, Microsoft cannot control global events and can adapt its marketing schedule however it pleases. But the lack of any update this month on its June Xbox 20/20 “moment” has left a hole in its regular-sounding announcement schedule – and one it has not publicly addressed. Microsoft declined to comment further when contacted by Eurogamer.

After a lacklustre May and largely non-existent June, all eyes are on Microsoft’s July Xbox 20/20 show to finally deliver – and August, for the reveal of that second box.

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