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Global Teams That Work

  • Tsedal Neeley

globalization task team

Many companies today rely on employees around the world, leveraging their diversity and local expertise to gain a competitive edge. However, geographically dispersed teams face a big challenge: Physical separation and cultural differences can create social distance, or a lack of emotional connection, that leads to misunderstandings and mistrust.

To help global team leaders manage effectively, the author shares her SPLIT framework for mitigating social distance. It has five components:

1. Structure. If a team is made up of groups with different views about their relative power, the leader should connect frequently with those who are farthest away and emphasize unity.

2. Process. Meeting processes should allow for informal interactions that build empathy.

3. Language. Everyone, regardless of language fluency, should be empowered to speak up.

4. Identity. Team members must be active cultural learners and teachers to understand one another’s identity and avoid misinterpreting behaviors.

5. Technology. When choosing between videoconferencing, e-mail, and other modes of communication, leaders should ask themselves if real-time conversation is desirable, if their message needs reinforcement, and if they are opting for the technology they want others to use.

HBR Reprint R1510D

A framework for bridging social distance

Idea in Brief

The problem.

When teams consist of people from different cultures working apart from one another in different locations, social distance—or a lack of emotional connection—can cause miscommunication, misunderstanding, and distrust.

The Solution

The leaders of global teams can improve the workings of their groups by using the author’s SPLIT framework to identify and address five sources of social distance: structure, process, language, identity, and technology.

To succeed in the global economy today, more and more companies are relying on a geographically dispersed workforce. They build teams that offer the best functional expertise from around the world, combined with deep, local knowledge of the most promising markets. They draw on the benefits of international diversity, bringing together people from many cultures with varied work experiences and different perspectives on strategic and organizational challenges. All this helps multinational companies compete in the current business environment.

  • Tsedal Neeley is the Naylor Fitzhugh Professor of Business Administration and senior associate dean of faculty and research at Harvard Business School. She is the coauthor of the book The Digital Mindset: What It Really Takes to Thrive in the Age of Data, Algorithms, and AI and the author of the book Remote Work Revolution: Succeeding from Anywhere . tsedal

globalization task team

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UN DESA | DPAD | Development Policy Analysis Division

iStock Photo/The World We Want 2015

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have served as a shared framework for global action and cooperation on development since 2000. As the world approaches 2015, the overall target date for achieving the MDGs, thinking has begun on how to advance the global development agenda beyond 2015.

To support this effort, the UN Secretary-General has taken several initiatives. He has established the UN System Task Team on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda, launched a High-level Panel of Eminent Persons and appointed his own Special Advisor on Post-2015 Development Planning. These processes are complemented by a set of eleven global thematic consultations and national consultations in over 60 countries facilitated by the United Nations Development Group.

Further information on the global conversation on the post-2015 development agenda can be found at the 'World We Want 2015' Website which is jointly owned by United Nations agencies and civil society organizations.

Process Overview

The UN System Task Team

The UN System Task Team was established by the UN Secretary-General to support system-wide preparations for the post-2015 UN development agenda, in consultation with all stakeholders, including Member States, civil society, academia and the private sector. It brings together over 60 UN entities and agencies and international organizations. It supports the multi-stakeholder consultations being led by Member States on a post-2015 global development agenda, by providing analytical inputs, expertise and outreach.

  • Report: Realizing the Future We Want for All (May 2012)
  • UN System Task Team Thematic Think Pieces
  • Intergovernmental processes of relevance for post-2015 UN development agenda preparations (September 2012)
  • Members of the UN System Task Team
  • UN System Task Team Working Groups

Working group on the global partnership for development beyond 2015

In September 2012 the UN System Task Team established a new working group on the global partnership for development beyond 2015. A set of think pieces, which were prepared by members of the working group, focus on lessons learnt from MDG8 and a series of specific themes relevant to renewing global partnerships in the post-2015 development agenda. These think pieces will be synthesized in a report to be published in March 2013.

  • Report: A renewed global partnership for development
  • Global Partnership Thematic Think Pieces

Working group on monitoring and indicators

The working group on monitoring and indicators was established in September 2012. More than twenty agencies participated in the group under the joint leadership of UN DESA and UNDP. In close cooperation with the Inter-Agency Expert Group on MDG Indicators, the working group produced a report on 'Statistics and indicators for the post-2015 development agenda'. The report was published on 4 July 2013.

  • Launch of the report in Geneva
  • Background papers

The UN System Task Team commissioned three background papers to inform the discussion during the Expert Group Meeting held in New York from 27 – 29 February 2012.

  • Deepak Nayyar
  • Jan Vandemoortele
  • Rolph Van Der Hoeven
  • UN Task Team: Assessment of the MDG Agenda
  • UN Task Team: New partnerships to implement a post-2015 development agenda
  • Side event on post-2015 during 2012 ECOSOC AMR (July 2012)
  • Statements from the briefing on the post-2015 development agenda for ECOSOC (April 2012)
  • Briefing with UN Delegates on post-2015 agenda: Opening remarks by USG Sha Zukang (February 2012)
  • General Assembly Speakers Underscore Vital Importance of Building Momentum Towards Achieving MDGs, Discuss Post-2015 Agenda (December 2011)
  • Briefing on the Report hosted by the President of the General Assembly on advancing the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015 (November 2011)

Experts Group Meeting to support the advancement of the post-2015 UN development agenda

An Expert Group Meeting on the post-2015 development agenda was held in New York from 27 – 29 February 2012. Academics, researchers and leaders from civil society organizations with expertise on development issues were invited. Participants from 45 organization and entities within the UN System and from 19 institutions ranging from academia to non-governmental organizations attended the meeting.

  • Presentations
  • List of participating UN Agencies and other institutions
  • Summary of discussions
  • Informal briefing with UN Delegations

Additional resources

  • DESA Working Paper: From aid to global development policy (September 2012)
  • DESA Working Paper: Building a stable and equitable global monetary system (September 2012)
  • Annual report of the Secretary-General: Accelerating progress towards the MDGs: options for sustained and inclusive growth and issues for advancing the UN development agenda beyond 2015 (September 2012)
  • DESA Working Paper: Should global goal setting continue, and how, in the post-2015 era? (July 2012)
  • Amy Pollard (CAFOD): Review of UNTT Report (July 2012)
  • UN Committee for Development Policy: The United Nations Development Strategy Beyond 2015 (June 2012)
  • Annual report of the Secretary-General: Accelerating progress towards the MDGs: options for sustained and inclusive growth and issues for advancing the UN development agenda beyond 2015 (July 2011)
  • High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda: A new global partnership. Eradicate poverty and transform economies through sustainable development (May 2013)
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Blueprint is an independent, advertising-supported comparison service focused on helping readers make smarter decisions. We receive compensation from the companies that advertise on Blueprint which may impact how and where products appear on this site. The compensation we receive from advertisers does not influence the recommendations or advice our editorial team provides in our articles or otherwise impact any of the editorial content on Blueprint. Blueprint does not include all companies, products or offers that may be available to you within the market. A list of selected affiliate partners is available here .

Best free task management software in 2024

Mehdi Punjwani

Sierra Campbell

Sierra Campbell

“Verified by an expert” means that this article has been thoroughly reviewed and evaluated for accuracy.

Published 7:24 a.m. UTC Feb. 15, 2024

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Editorial Note: Blueprint may earn a commission from affiliate partner links featured here on our site. This commission does not influence our editors' opinions or evaluations. Please view our full advertiser disclosure policy .

A good task management software will give you the tools you need to organize projects for your business and help individuals, teams and businesses stay organized and productive. They offer a range of features and capabilities depending on the complexities of your business and projects, allowing you to set deadlines, assign tasks to team members, allocate resources and track and report on progress.

Finding the best task management software for your business means considering a range of factors, like the core features on offer, the customer service you’ll get and the ability to scale up according to your needs. We’ve tried and tested some of the biggest platforms available to give you our list of best task management software in 2024.

Best free task management software

  • Notion : Best for flexibility.
  • ClickUp : Best for customization.
  • Trello : Best for automation.
  • Hive : Best for collaboration.
  • Zoho Projects : Best for startups using Zoho.
  • Teamwork : Best for client task management.
  • Monday : Best for individuals and freelancers.
  • Asana : Best for complex tasks.
  • Podio : Best for app building.
  • GoodDay : Best for scaling up.

Why trust our small business experts

Our team of experts evaluates hundreds of business products and analyzes thousands of data points to help you find the best product for your situation. We use a data-driven methodology to determine each rating. Advertisers do not influence our editorial content. You can read more about our methodology below.

  • 62 companies reviewed.
  • 164 products reviewed.
  • 2,028 data points analyzed.

Best for flexibility


Cheapest paid plan (billed monthly)

Number of users, number of projects/tasks, what you should know.

Notion is a versatile task management platform that gives you a high degree of control and customization even on its free plan. With an abundance of views and formats, including Kanban boards, Gantt charts, calendar views and to-do lists, it offers users multiple ways to track and organize projects. You can also make use of thousands of templates built by Notion and its users, catering to an array of health and fitness, work and office and day-to-day home management needs.

You won’t need to pay anything to get unlimited pages and workflows as an individual, but you’ll need to upgrade to give multiple users full functionality. While you can upload unlimited files on the free plan, you’ll be limited to 5 MB per file, as well as a seven-day history and one synced database.

We’d recommend it if you want to use one platform to manage a variety of project and task types with flexible views and displays; it’s particularly good for content creators.

Pros and cons

  • Multiple views, including Kanban boards, Gantt charts and to-do lists.
  • Thousands of versatile templates for things like health and fitness, work and home.
  • Free version offers individuals unlimited pages and workflows.
  • Custom automation features only available on paid plans.
  • Maximum file upload of 5 MB on free plan.
  • Limited admin and security features on free plan.

Best for customization


ClickUp’s free platform gives you a highly capable and customizable task management platform with an unlimited number of tasks and members. It also offers 24/7 customer service on all plans. You’ll be able to view tasks in unlimited lists, boards and calendars, but you’ll only get 60 uses of Gantt charts, timelines and workloads.

The free plan also allows custom statuses and up to 20 custom task types, as well as other useful features like multiple assignees, checklists, dependencies and a basic custom field manager. However, you’ll only be able to create five “spaces” as part of the free plan — unlimited spaces are only available on paid plans. There are also no time-tracking features and very limited other reporting capabilities.

  • Free version offers unlimited free plan members and tasks.
  • A range of views, including Kanban boards and Gantt charts.
  • 24/7 customer support on all plans.
  • Limits on how many views, custom fields and workloads you can use.
  • No time tracking features.
  • Only five ‘spaces’ on free plan.

Best for automation


While Trello’s free platform only offers its Kanban-style board view, its two main highlights are its automation services and unlimited power-ups. With its Butler automation, you’ll be able to create rules, buttons and commands, and repetitive actions are recognized with suggested automations that help increase productivity. Third-party apps you can integrate include Slack, Jira, Gmail, Microsoft Teams and Google Drive.

You’ll be limited to 10 MB file uploads and only 10 boards per workspace, though with unlimited storage and workspaces for all plans, this isn’t too restrictive. It’s not ideal if you want to see projects and tasks in calendar or timeline views, but as a basic task manager with smart automation tools, it can be a useful platform for individuals and small businesses.

  • Very straightforward and easy to use.
  • Built-in automation features, including an automation bot called Butler.
  • Unlimited power-up feature lets you integrate third-party apps.
  • File uploads are limited to 10 MB per file.
  • You only get up to 10 boards per workspace.
  • Limited view options.

Best for collaboration


Hive comes with its own native communication tools, allowing for straightforward collaboration with up to 10 workspace members on its free plan. As a task manager, it’s fairly capable, offering unlimited tasks and subtasks as well as multiple views such as Kanban, Gantt, calendars and tables. However, you’ll only get two pages and 100 workflows, and while Kanban views are unlimited, the free plan only offers 100 uses of Gantt, calendar and table views.

Your ability to customize projects and tasks will also be fairly restricted with no custom fields or labels, and your storage limit on the free plan will be 200 MB overall. Its free plan also comes without a few other features, such as AI assists, custom dashboards and analytics. We’d recommend it as a simple free task manager for small teams working together that will benefit from its native collaborative tools.

  • Native collaboration and communication tools.
  • Multiple views and layouts.
  • Unlimited tasks and sub-tasks.
  • 200 MB storage limit.
  • 10 projects and two pages on free plan.
  • No custom project fields or task labels.

Best for startups using Zoho

Zoho projects.

Zoho Projects

Zoho offers a project manager as part of its larger suite of tools and products, offering a free version for up to three users as well as a 10-day free trial on its paid plans. You’ll be able to manage two projects, create feeds, share documents and custom statuses and set up task dependencies within projects. It’s particularly useful for startups already making use of other Zoho products like CRM, Meeting and Sprints, all of which integrate into the free platform.

You can also use third-party app integrations for Microsoft Teams and Office 365, Slack, Dropbox, Zendesk and Zapier. However, there are some significant limitations to the free version, including limited customization — you can’t create custom fields or views, and there are only basic reporting capabilities.

  • Integrates with Zoho CRM, Meeting and Sprints.
  • Straightforward and easy to use.
  • Offers useful core features, including document sharing, subtasks and custom statuses.
  • Only three users and two projects on free plan.
  • No Gantt charts, custom views, time tracking or custom fields.

Best for client task management


Teamwork will be particularly useful for agencies needing to manage client tasks, as it comes with built-in billable time-tracking features and estimated time management. It also offers client-level insights and client-company management, though you’ll only get client users with premium paid plans. With Teamwork, you’ll also get a range of automation features, including automatic Slack updates, HubSpot deals and Microsoft Teams messages.

It does have drawbacks in the shape of limited reporting capabilities — while all plans come with a dashboard, only premium paid plans offer reports on status, portfolio health, time, utilization and profitability. You also won’t have any phone, live chat or email support options on its free plan.

  • Billable time-tracking and invoicing features useful for agencies.
  • Client views and management features.
  • Wide range of automation features.
  • No phone, live chat or email support.
  • Limited reporting and customization options.
  • No client users on free plan.

Best for individuals and freelancers


Monday is a popular task management platform with businesses worldwide, but we’d recommend its free plan specifically for individuals and freelancers managing their businesses. It offers a straightforward Kanban interface only, with over 200 templates available, so you’ll be able to create up to three boards with two users and unlimited documents.

However, Monday’s free plan is missing a number of wider features like timeline, Gantt and calendar views, as well as offering no integrations or automations. It’s a relatively simplistic platform compared to others, so we’d recommend it more for individuals than teams that will need more advanced collaboration and reporting capabilities.

  • Over 200 templates available.
  • Apps for iOS and Android.
  • Intuitive and easy to use interface.
  • No integrations on free version.
  • Only offers Kanban view.

Best for complex tasks


We’d recommend Asana’s powerful platform as an ideal choice for small businesses managing complex tasks or projects with plenty of moving parts. With unlimited tasks, projects, file storage, assignees and messages alongside multiple views such as boards, calendars and lists all included on its free plan, it’s a capable piece of software. You’ll also have access to over 100 free third-party integrations such as Microsoft Teams, Adobe Creative Cloud, Okta and Tableau.

However, you won’t be able to use timelines, Gantt views, goals or portfolios with the free plan, nor time-tracking, workflows or various automation features. The free plan is also fairly limited when it comes to reporting, with only status updates and CSV and PDF exports available.

  • Unlimited project management essential features.
  • Multiple views available.
  • Over 100 free integrations.
  • Limited reporting features.
  • No 24/7 support.

Best for app building


Podio offers a unique solution for businesses that will benefit from building their own customized project management apps to suit their specific needs. As well as the ability to design a bespoke task manager for your team, you’ll have access to hundreds of user-created apps online. It allows you to keep all important aspects of your business and projects in one central place, depending on the requirements of you and your team.

However, its free version is limited in the other features it offers — including the number of items and client users you can support. It also doesn’t offer automated workflows or visual reports, so keep this in mind if you’re considering Podio.

  • You can build your own customizable apps for project management.
  • You’ll also have access to hundreds of pre-made apps.
  • Live chat support available.
  • Limited features on the free plan.
  • Takes a while to set up and customize to your exact specifications.

Best for scaling up


With a robust set of features and capabilities as well as relatively affordable price plans for upgrading, we’d recommend GoodDay for businesses looking to scale up their operations. Its free version is already quite powerful, offering unlimited projects and tasks for up to 15 users, with views including lists, boards, tables, calendars, event summaries and portfolios. You can customize views, priorities, workflows and statuses, as well as set up dependencies, reminders and to-do lists.

Other customization options are only available on paid plans, such as task, project and user fields, as well as task types and IDs. Additionally, many security features and all CRM features are only available when you upgrade, but with the next price plan up only costing $6 per month, it’s an affordable choice for scaling up.

  • Unlimited projects and tasks.
  • Unlimited views, with most available on free plan.
  • Powerful features for big businesses with affordable plans for scaling up.
  • Many customization options unavailable on free plan.
  • No finance, time tracking, chats or automation.

Best task management software comparison


We extensively research the key competitors within an industry to determine the best products and services for your business. Our experts identify the factors that matter most to business owners, including pricing, features and customer support, to ensure that our recommendations offer well-rounded products that will meet the needs of various small businesses.

We collect extensive data to narrow our best list to reputable, easy-to-use products with stand-out features at a reasonable price point. And we look at user reviews to ensure that business owners like you are satisfied with our top picks’ services. We use the same rubric to assess companies within a particular space so you can confidently follow our blueprint to the best free task management software.

The best task management software has positive user reviews on customer review sites and app stores. Task management software companies should provide customers with fast and reliable support. Using a combination of phone support, live chat and knowledge bases, customers should be able to quickly resolve issues 24/7.

Task management software should have role assignment features, timelines and dependencies. It should also allow businesses to use customizable templates, track expenses and track milestones.

And the best task management software should offer client access, billing and invoice capabilities and budgeting features.

What is task management software and how does it work?

Task management software is a digital tool you can use as an individual or a business to manage, organize and prioritize tasks. While levels of features and capabilities will vary between platforms, many also offer the ability to communicate between team members, share files and updates and track progress toward objectives. 

You’ll be able to use task management software to create and assign tasks, set deadlines, allocate resources and allow for collaboration between colleagues. These tools can help you and your business increase productivity and efficiency. However, it’s important to be aware of how complex your needs are. 

Some task management programs can be complex and could end up reducing your productivity and organization, which is why it’s so important to find the right platform for your needs.

Benefits of free task management software

Using task management software can offer a number of benefits for individuals and businesses, including:

  • Free forever: A good free task management software will offer unlimited projects or workflows without any extra costs — not just a free trial before you have to pay.
  • Productivity: Task management platforms can increase your team’s productivity through automation, progress tracking and reporting, saving time on repetitive tasks.
  • Centralized workflow: You can use task management software to keep all workflows centralized, allowing easy access for all team members and collaborators to stay updated and informed.
  • Collaboration: You’ll be able to clearly assign roles and allocate resources on projects and tasks to different team members, and many platforms also allow team members to work together and communicate. 
  • Manage big projects: Complex and lengthy projects can be broken down into separate tasks and workflows with multiple teams and team members. 
  • Remote workers: If you rely on remote workers or freelancers, many task management platforms allow all team members to collaborate online from any location.

Who needs task management software?

Task management software can prove useful for a variety of individuals and businesses. You might be a freelancer with a number of client tasks to manage or a hobbyist running a side hustle — in which case, a free task manager will be ideal. 

Likewise, small teams and businesses can also benefit from using task management software to organize and track workflow progress for team projects. A free plan or trial period offers a great way to try out different platforms and products so you can find one that suits your needs best before committing to a paid plan with more features and capabilities required by your business.

How to choose the best task management software

Choosing the best free task management software for your business means considering a range of factors and how each of these will best suit your needs. You will need to think about the core features offered by each platform, as well as whether it plugs into any existing software you have and how easy and intuitive it is to use. 

Additionally, you should look into the customer support options each platform offers, as this will be crucial in case things go wrong and your work is at risk.

Key features to look for

Levels of complexity and customization will vary between platforms, but in general, you should look out for the following features as part of your task management software:

  • Sub-tasks: Key to keeping big projects organized, task managers should allow you to split tasks and assign different deadlines and workers to each sub-task.
  • Views and visualizations: You should also be able to see your tasks and projects in different views, like Kanban dashboards or Gantt charts. You may find these to be limited in free versions of some platforms, so check price plans to ensure you’re getting what you need.
  • Integration: If you have any existing software or hardware in use for your business, such as finance and accounting apps, design tools or communication platforms, it’s worth seeing if these will plug into the task management software you want. It helps keep everything synchronized and centralized.
  • Tracking and reporting: Your task manager should also allow you to track task and project progress against deadlines and objectives, as well as generate reports. 
  • Automation: Some platforms will even offer automation services that let you set up automatic tracking and reporting.
  • Collaboration: Lastly, if you’re managing a team’s workload, it’s vital they can work together, so look for task management software that allows for communication and role delegation.

Ease of use

Some task management tools will be relatively simple and easy to use, with intuitive drag-and-drop interfaces that allow for straightforward organization. However, others offer more complex capabilities, including multiple views like Gantt charts, calendars, lists and galleries, automated reporting and collaboration between multiple team members. 

Consider what you’ll need the software for, how many people and tasks you’ll be managing and what kind of insights you’ll want when making your choice.


You should also factor in any security requirements you might have, especially if you’re a big organization or you use third-party apps, providers or even freelancers. Being able to control access on multiple levels may be particularly important. Additionally, consider things like two-factor authentication, secure sharing and data protection when choosing platforms.

Customer service

If something goes wrong with your task manager, it can affect your business’s ability to complete projects and assure stakeholders of progress. Customer service is a key part of being able to resolve issues, so look for providers that offer both round-the-clock availability and instant contact by phone or live chat as a priority.

How much does task management software cost?

When looking for free task management software, consider whether it’s truly free forever — meaning you’ll have access to all the features on the free plan forever without having to pay. 

While this might mean many advanced features are hidden behind paywalls, you’ll at least be able to rely on the software for your basic needs without restriction. This is in contrast to free trials that often give you access to the entire platform for a limited time, after which you won’t be able to use it without paying.

If you’re looking to try a free plan in order to get a feel for a specific task management software before committing to a paid plan, you’ll likely be more on the lookout for usability as well as scalability. Consider which paid plans offer the most bang for your buck to narrow down your options, but focus on which free software feels the most natural to use for your business. 

You may find that some software platforms offer prices on a per-user basis while others offer a set number of users for each plan. Others may even have a minimum-user requirement, so if they charge a set price per user and require at least three users, you’ll need to pay three times the price you see given as a minimum.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

The best free task management software will depend entirely on your needs and requirements as an individual or business. ClickUp and Notion both offer great customization features, with Notion especially good for content creators.

Paid task management software plans offer a range of extra benefits, including more users or projects, additional features and advanced integrations and security. These will often be more useful for bigger teams and companies managing complex projects with multiple moving parts and stakeholders that need to be kept informed. 

When prioritizing tasks in project management, you should consider the resources available, any dependencies on the task being completed and the urgency of the request. 

Task management software lets you manage multiple tasks at work by allowing you to create, organize and assign tasks, set deadlines, track progress and, if required, add sub-tasks. All tasks are kept in one place and accessible for anyone who needs to see them, often in digestible formats like calendars, boards and timelines.

Improving task management skills will require you to be disciplined and attentive to detail in order to get the best from task management software and boost your productivity. You should: 

  • Focus on prioritizing tasks on your to-do list.
  • Create a manageable schedule for delivery with realistic deadlines. 
  • Ensure you’re communicating with stakeholders to keep everyone on the same page.

The best software will make this easy and help you manage your workload efficiently and effectively — but it’s made even easier when you know you’ve picked the right task management software for your requirements.

Blueprint is an independent publisher and comparison service, not an investment advisor. The information provided is for educational purposes only and we encourage you to seek personalized advice from qualified professionals regarding specific financial decisions. Past performance is not indicative of future results.

Blueprint has an advertiser disclosure policy . The opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Blueprint editorial staff alone. Blueprint adheres to strict editorial integrity standards. The information is accurate as of the publish date, but always check the provider’s website for the most current information.

Mehdi Punjwani

Mehdi is a writer and editor with many years of personal finance expertise under his belt. He's a spirited money-saver, with a passion for making personal finance accessible and manageable. When he isn't writing, Mehdi likes to read about history and travel, hike along coastlines and in forests, and watch his beloved team Manchester United underperform.

Sierra Campbell is a small business editor for USA Today Blueprint. She specializes in writing, editing and fact-checking content centered around helping businesses. She has worked as a digital content and show producer for several local TV stations, an editor for U.S. News & World Report and a freelance writer and editor for many companies. Sierra prides herself in delivering accurate and up-to-date information to readers. Her expertise includes credit card processing companies, e-commerce platforms, payroll software, accounting software and virtual private networks (VPNs). She also owns Editing by Sierra, where she offers editing services to writers of all backgrounds, including self-published and traditionally published authors.

How to start a small business: A step-by-step guide

How to start a small business: A step-by-step guide

Business Eric Rosenberg

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Releasing Windows 11 Builds 22621.3227 and 22631.3227 to the Release Preview Channel

  • Windows Insider Program Team

Hello Windows Insiders, today we’re releasing Windows 11 Builds 22621.3227 and 22631.3227 ( KB5034848 ) to Insiders in the Release Preview Channel on Windows 11, version 22H2 (Build 22621) and version 23H2 (Build 22631).

Along with this update, we are also releasing a February Windows Configuration Update (KB5035349) for both Windows 11, version 22H2 and 23H2 that introduces a few new features and improvements such as:

  • Voice access is available in additional languages: French (France, Canada), German, and Spanish (Spain, Mexico).
  • You can now use all voice access features on multiple displays.
  • Voice shortcuts or custom commands in voice access .
  • You can now listen to a preview of the ten natural voices in Narrator before you download them.
  • You can now use voice access to open applications, dictate text, and interact with elements on the screen. You can also use your voice to command Narrator .
  • The Windows share window will use the account you use to sign in for apps that are in “Share using.” For example, if you use a Microsoft account (MSA) to sign in, you will see Microsoft Teams (free). When you use a Microsoft Entra ID account (formerly Azure Active Directory) to sign in, your Microsoft Teams (work or school) contacts show instead.
  • The Windows share window now supports sharing with WhatsApp in the “Share using” section. If you do not have WhatsApp installed, you can install it from the Windows share window.
  • You can use quick settings or the Settings app to turn on Nearby Share. If you do and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are off, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth will turn on to make Nearby Share work as you expect. If you turn off Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, Nearby Share turns off as well.
  • You can now give your device a more friendly name to identify it when sharing. Go to Settings > System > Nearby sharing. There, you can rename your device.
  • We have improved Nearby Share transfer speed for users on the same network. Before, users had to be on the same private network. Now, users must be on the same public or private network.
  • The Cast flyout menu in quick settings gives you more help to find nearby displays, fix connections, and more.
  • We are adding suggestions to Snap Layouts . They help you to instantly snap multiple app windows together.
  • Improvements for Windows 365 Boot and Windows 365 Switch .

Turn on the toggle to get the latest updates as they are available to get new features rolled out to you.

If you have the toggle to get the latest updates as soon as they are available turned ON via Settings > Windows Update BEFORE installing KB5034848 , you will also get the February Windows Configuration Update (KB5035349) installed at the same time you install KB5034848 in a single reboot. Note only KB5034848 will show during install on the Settings > Windows Update page. But after restarting, the February Windows Configuration Update (KB5035349) will be shown in your Update History. This Windows Configuration Update is how we’re enabling new features via Controlled Feature Rollout (CFR) technology .

Should you install KB5034848 without turning on the toggle to get the latest updates as they are available before, you can simply turn it on, and the February Windows Configuration Update will be downloaded on your PC where you will be asked to reboot. Should you install KB5034848 and keep the toggle off, the new features will be gradually rolled out to your device over time.

KB5034848 includes the following improvements:

  • New! The Copilot in Windows icon now appears on the right side of the system tray on the taskbar. Also, the display of Show desktop at the rightmost corner of the taskbar will be off by default. To turn it on, go to Settings > Personalization > Taskbar . You can also right-click the taskbar and choose Taskbar settings .
  • New! The Phone Link settings page has a new name: Mobile devices. Go to Settings > Bluetooth & devices > Mobile devices .
  • New! You can now use the Snipping Tool on your PC to edit the most recent photos and screenshots from your Android device. You will get an instant notification on your PC when your Android device captures a new photo or screenshot. To turn this on, go to Settings > Bluetooth & devices > Mobile devices . Choose Manage devices and allow your PC to access your Android device.
  • This update affects games you install on a secondary drive. Now, they remain installed on the drive.
  • This update addresses an issue that affects Notepad. It does not open for the standard user account. This occurs when you use Command Prompt to open it based on file type association.
  • This update addresses an issue that affects 8 Zip archives. It stops you from opening them by double-clicking them in File Explorer.
  • This update addresses an issue that affects a machine that is used as a remote desktop session host. You get stop error RDR_FILE_SYSTEM (0x27). This occurs when you start up all users from the machine.
  • This update addresses an issue that affects Microsoft Edge. The UI is wrong for Internet Options Data Settings.
  • This update addresses an issue that affects Steps Recorder. Some of the UI and steps are not localized to Chinese.
  • This update addresses an issue that affects long-edge fed printers. The alignment of stapling or hole punch locations is wrong.
  • This update addresses an issue that affects an embedded SIM (eSIM) profile. When you delete it, you do not get a notification.
  • This update addresses an issue that affects the Windows Settings Home page. It randomly stops responding when you go to the page.
  • This update addresses an issue that affects networking. A device fails to make the automatic switch from cellular to Wi-Fi when it can use Wi-Fi.
  • This update addresses an issue that affects Remote Desktop Web Authentication. You might not be able to connect to sovereign cloud endpoints.
  • This update addresses an issue that makes the troubleshooting process fail. This occurs when you use the Get Help app.
  • This update addresses an issue that affects the Certificate Authority snap-in. You cannot select the “Delta CRL” option. This stops you from using the GUI to publish Delta CRLs.
  • This update addresses an issue that stops a system from going to sleep. This occurs when you connect an external device to the system.

Thanks, Windows Insider Program Team

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Six Spongy Sea Creatures Suggest Warming Might Be Worse Than Thought

Research on a long-lived but rarely seen species in the Caribbean is helping scientists piece together a revised history of climate change.

A view from space of blue ocean with white clouds scattered in the sky.

By Raymond Zhong

Since the dawn of the industrial age, our species has warmed the planet by considerably more than today’s most widely accepted estimates imply, according to a team of scientists who have gleaned detailed new information about Earth’s past climate from an unusual source: centuries-old sponges living in the Caribbean Sea.

Networks of satellites and sensors have measured the rising temperatures of recent decades with great precision. But to assess the full arc of global warming, scientists typically combine this data with 19th-century thermometer readings that were often spotty and inexact.

This is where the sponges come in. By examining the chemical composition of their skeletons, which the creatures built up steadily over centuries, the researchers have pieced together a new history of those earliest decades of warming. And it points to a startling conclusion: Humans have raised global temperatures by a total of about 1.7 degrees Celsius, or 3.1 Fahrenheit, not 1.2 degrees Celsius, the most commonly used value.

“It’s a bit of a wake-up call,” said Malcolm T. McCulloch, a geochemist at the University of Western Australia and one of the scientists who worked on the new research.

Climate researchers look at the total amount by which humanity has warmed the planet to predict when we might expect the effects of a hotter Earth — deadlier heat waves, stronger storms, more destructive wildfires — to reach certain levels. If our forebears heated the globe more than previously believed, then the clock on dangerous climate change might effectively have started earlier than we think.

With the new findings, “we may have brought things forward by about a decade,” Dr. McCulloch said.

He and his colleagues’ research, published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, adds to other evidence suggesting that societies started warming the planet earlier than 19th-century temperature records indicate.

Scientists and governments still use those older records as the benchmark for measuring total warming, largely for practical reasons: They aren’t perfect, but they’re a yardstick that everyone can more or less agree on.

That’s why several researchers who weren’t involved in the new study expressed hesitation about using the Caribbean sponge data to conclude that prevailing estimates of the planet’s warming should be tossed out.

Measurements from any single location can only tell you so much about the climate worldwide, said Hali Kilbourne, a geological oceanographer at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. “I would want to include more records before claiming a global temperature reconstruction,” Dr. Kilbourne said.

The heroes of the new study are a long-lived type of sponge called sclerosponges. They are small and round, about the size of a grapefruit. They dwell in deep, dimly lit undersea nooks and niches. And they grow extremely slowly in a process that leaves chemical fingerprints of the temperature of the waters that wash around them through the centuries.

The researchers examined samples from six live sclerosponges that a diving team from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez collected off the shores of Puerto Rico and St. Croix, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, from depths of up to 300 feet.

Six is not a large number of specimens. But these sponges lurk so far underwater that scientists need submersibles or highly capable divers to find them. Neither option is cheap.

“They’re just very hard to get to,” Brad E. Rosenheim, a geological oceanographer at the University of South Florida, said of sclerosponges. All in all, scientists worldwide have probably only ever collected something on the order of 50 members of this species, said Dr. Rosenheim, who didn’t work on the new study.

The study’s authors first compared the most recent chemical changes preserved in the sponges’ skeletons against measurements of global sea-surface temperatures from the past six decades. The numbers lined up nicely. The researchers then worked through the rest of the sponge data to unspool a complete history of ocean warming going back to 1700.

Their history suggests that ocean temperatures stayed mostly flat through 1790. The seas then cooled somewhat because of major volcanic eruptions. And then, in the mid-1860s, they began to warm. By the middle of the 20th century, the amount of warming that had taken place across both sea and land, when calculated using the sponge records, was about half a degree Celsius greater than scientists currently estimate. That gap has persisted to this day, the researchers’ data shows.

The area these particular specimens called home is uniquely situated to tell us about ocean temperatures globally, said Amos Winter, a professor of earth and environmental systems at Indiana State University who worked on the study.

Past research has shown that the temperature of the Caribbean’s waters closely tracks the average warmth of the oceans worldwide. And, because sclerosponges live so deep beneath the waves, the waters around them don’t fluctuate in temperature as much as those at the surface.

“It’s probably one of the best areas” to study larger ocean trends, Dr. Winter said. “The changes in Puerto Rico mimic the changes in the globe.”

The new findings raise fresh concerns about whether governments will be able to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius and, if possible, 1.5 Celsius, as stipulated under the 2015 Paris Agreement.

But the study’s implications for the Paris goals aren’t straightforward, said Joeri Rogelj, a climate scientist at Imperial College London who wasn’t involved in the research.

The targets represent guardrails based on scientists’ predictions about how much worse the effects of global warming will get compared with conditions between 1986 and 2005, not conditions during preindustrial times, Dr. Rogelj said. Revised temperature estimates for the 19th century therefore wouldn’t necessarily change our understanding of whether these guardrails have been breached, he said.

There is still ample reason to be concerned about how quickly we are now experiencing the harmful consequences of warming, said Gabi Hegerl, a climate scientist at the University of Edinburgh who also wasn’t involved in the study. “Some of the impacts of climate change that we’re seeing today are quite surprising,” Dr. Hegerl said.

Raymond Zhong reports on climate and environmental issues for The Times. More about Raymond Zhong

Learn More About Climate Change

Have questions about climate change? Our F.A.Q. will tackle your climate questions, big and small .

New satellite-based research reveals how land along the East Coast is slumping into the ocean, compounding the danger from global sea level rise . A major culprit: overpumping of groundwater.

The planet needs solar power. Can we build it without harming nature ? Today’s decisions about how and where to set up new energy projects will reverberate for generations.

Carbon-free electricity has never been more plentiful, but it hasn’t yet been enough to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. We looked at how electricity generation has changed over time to help you understand today’s global picture .

Singapore is rethinking its sweltering urban areas to dampen the effects of climate change. Can it be a model for other cities ?

New data reveals stark disparities in how different U.S. households contribute to climate change. See your neighborhood’s climate impact .

Did you know the ♻ symbol doesn’t mean something is actually recyclable ? Read on about how we got here, and what can be done.

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Pink Parrot Unveils Flurry of Deals on German-Canadian CG Fantasy ‘Elli and Her Monster Team!’ (EXCLUSIVE)

By Emiliano De Pablos

Emiliano De Pablos

  • ‘Sons of the Clouds’’ Alvaro Longoria Preps ‘The Sleeper’(EXCLUSIVE) 16 hours ago
  • Disney+ Nabs Latin American Rights to Yaker’s Revenge Thriller ‘Una Jirafa en el Balcón,’ Spain and International Sales Go to Filmax (EXCLUSIVE) 3 months ago
  • Bendita Films Sales Boards Belgian Social Drama ‘Amal,’ Starring ‘Paradise Now,’ ‘Incendies’ Lubna Azabal (EXCLUSIVE) 3 months ago

Elli and Her Monster Team!

Pink Parrot Media, the Montreal and Madrid-based international sales house, has revealed a flurry of deals for the German-Canadian CG animated fantasy feature “Elli and Her Monster Team!,” which is making its market premiere at the EFM.

Underlining the appetite for toon family features by European distributors, the film has been sold to Just Entertainment in Benelux, Bim Distribuzione in Italy, NOS Lusomundo in Portugal, Flins&Piniculas in Spain and GPI for Baltics.

In addition, Wild Bunch in Germany and Level Film and Maison 4:3 in Canada plan a “Elli and her Monster Team!” release by June.  

Recently completed, the feature was directed by Jesper Møller (“Asterix and the Vikings”) and Piet de Rycker (“Laura’s Star”) and co-directed by Jens Møller (“Lego Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures”). 

Jesper Møller, De Rycker and Paul Risacher (“Racetime”) co-wrote the film, produced by Lilian Klages and Thomas G. Muller for Germany’s Zooper Film and Dreamin’ Dolphin Film alongside Marie Claude Beauchamp for Canada’s CarpeDiem Film & TV and Michael Luda at Germany’s Traumhaus Studios. 

Executive producers take in Marc Gabizon for Wild Bunch and Tania Pinto Da Cunha on behalf of  Pink Parrot Media. 

“Elli and her Monster Team!” is based on Klaus Baumgart’s same-titled best-selling book. The story kicks off when a homeless little ghost knocks on the door of the eccentric residents of a Ghost Train on the lookout for a place to belong. 

“The story couldn’t be more timely as it offers audiences important messages of love, acceptance and inclusion,” said Pinto Da Cunha, Pink Parrot partner and head of international sales  and acquisitions. 

“It’s fantastic to have partners from all around the world embrace this uplifting story. Jesper and Piet have crafted a hilarious and wonderfully original adventure, which we believe has the potential to capture the hearts of family audiences around the world and to become an instant classic,” she said. 

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