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Official news and perspective covering the top stories, events and activities from Microsoft.

Category: Techno News

  • A data culture for everyone

    The following post is from Satya Nadella, Chief Executive Officer at Microsoft.


    In a mobile first, cloud first world, one of the most fascinating truths is that data is not only consumed but also generated at accelerating rates and exponentially increasing quantities.

    As computing becomes ubiquitous, engineers and developers are creating new form factors and cloud services that fit into all the nooks and crannies of everyday life. Car dashboards, light switches, HVAC systems, sneakers, etc. Nearly all interactions and experiences between humans, humans and computers and between computers get digitized. The opportunity we have in this new world is to find a way of catalyzing this data exhaust from ubiquitous computing and converting it into fuel for ambient intelligence. This fuel will power improved experiences, understanding and interactions. When these devices around us gain the capacity to listen to us, respond to us, understand us and act on our behalf, we enter into an entirely new era. The era of ambient intelligence.

    Developing the ability to convert data into the fuel for ambient intelligence is an ambitious challenge. It requires technology to understand context, derive intent and separate signal from noise. Building out a comprehensive platform that can enable this kind of ambient intelligence is a whole company initiative that we are uniquely qualified to undertake. SQL Server, BI, Machine Learning, Bing, Azure each have a vital role to play on the road to creating a world in which our devices, services and environments truly anticipate and understand our needs. It won’t happen overnight, but the good news is that along the way, there will be dividends that our customers and partners will benefit from today. SQL Server gets faster, our BI more intuitive, ML smarter, Bing more useful and Azure more scalable. Everyone wins as we embark on this journey to creating a platform for true ambient intelligence.

    This approach starts with any person asking a question, and then enabling that individual to test hypotheses, gain a unique insight and ultimately take action. Underpinning this individual experience is an analytics platform that brings order to data sourced from myriad sources – which in turn requires storage that is scalable and real-time. Together, they begin to form a platform for ambient intelligence.

    We believe that with the right tools, insights can come from anyone, anywhere, at any time. When that happens, organizations develop what we describe as a “data culture.”

    However, a data culture isn’t just about deploying technology alone, it’s about changing culture so that every organization, every team and every individual is empowered to do great things because of the data at their fingertips. This means bringing together people, IT and developers to create a cultural shift that is just as important as systems and infrastructure. In a data culture, everyone benefits when more people can ask questions and get answers. In a data culture, the entire effectiveness of an organization can elevate. This is especially true when every employee can harness the power of data once only reserved for data scientists and tap into the power of natural language, self-service business insights and visualization capabilities that work inside familiar apps such as Office.

    On Tuesday, I talked about our ambition to enable a data culture for everyone and how our current data platform across Office 365, Azure and SQL Server is bolstered with the announcements we made today:

    · SQL Server 2014. This release completely brings in-memory capability to all workload – OLTP, Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence.

    · Analytics Platform System (APS). APS combines the best of Microsoft’s SQL Server database and Hadoop technology in one low-cost offering that delivers “big data in a box.”

    · Azure Intelligent Systems Service – a cloud-based service to connect, manage, capture and transform machine-generated data regardless of the operating system or platform. This is our Internet of Things cloud service that goes into limited beta today.

    We are all experiencing the explosion of data driven by ubiquitous computing. We all crave easier and faster ways to turn that data into fuel for insight, and to realize the potential of ambient intelligence for every individual and every organization. Today marks a big step toward, and we’re going to keep moving quickly.

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    Details: http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_blog/archive/2014/04/15/a-data-culture-for-everyone.aspx

  • Researcher danah boyd on the weird science of teen online behavior

    Editor’s note: The following is a post from Emily Alhadeff, a writer for microsoft.com/stories.


    Remember “Weird Science,” the 1985 John Hughes comedy about two teen dweebs who use their computer, some wires and a Barbie doll to engineer their dream woman? After sparks and explosions, the dust settles and a partially clad Kelly LeBrock appears in the doorway, ready to transform the once-bullied “zeroes” into heroes.

    This zany movie parodied early computing systems, but parts of it ring prophetic. Not only do online social networks allow users to create identities and manipulate social situations, but studying the technology provides insightful data about the evolution of human interaction.


    “Human nature is pretty much always in beta.”


    Teens’ online behavior is one of Microsoft Principal Researcher danah boyd’s main areas of research. She explores the topic in her new book “It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens” (Yale University Press).

    “The teenagers who are growing up with technology today aren’t like my peer group,” says boyd, 36. “We were total geeks, freaks and outcasts. We weren’t part of the mainstream at all. And this is part of the mainstream now.”

    Twenty years ago, “jacking in” to the Internet provided an escape for boyd from the social trials of high school life. According to her book, teenagers today use social networking sites to do just the opposite: to supplement their physical social activity with photos, videos and conversations. In this way, teens are doing what they’ve always been doing: hanging out in the socially designated “cool” place. Adults disturbed by the gravitational tug of social media on teens may be comforted to know it’s the virtual equivalent of the previous generation’s mall food court.

    boyd, who spells her name in lower case in rebellion against caps and in honor of funky typography, went on to Brown University, where she became a rare female specimen in the field of computer science. “I went to study computer science because I wanted to build these systems I was deeply appreciating,” she said. “The thing is, I found the questions I was actually asking were about how people interact with these technologies.”

    Read the full profile at microsoft.com/stories.

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    Details: http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_blog/archive/2014/04/14/researcher-danah-boyd-on-the-weird-science-of-teen-online-behavior.aspx

  • Weekend Reading: April 11th Edition – Nokia Devices and Services acquisition approved in China, plus two awesome robot stories!

    The days are getting longer and the bees are waking from their long winter slumber here in Seattle. In celebration, we’re pollinating your weekend reading with news buzzing from around the globe.

    The Chinese Ministry of Commerce on Tuesday announced approval of Microsoft’s purchase of Nokia’s Devices and Services business, subject to certain conditions. In reaching this decision, the Ministry of Commerce concluded that Microsoft holds approximately 200 patent families necessary to build an Android smartphone. This brings the number of markets that have cleared Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia Devices and Services to 16.

    The beginning of an era, the end of another: Support for Windows XP ended Tuesday. The upshot? No more security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options, or online technical content updates for Windows XP from Microsoft. Windows XP faithful are encouraged to transition to newer operating systems like Windows 8.1.

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    We all know robots can be smart, but can they be social? Microsoft Research is investigating this question with its Situated Interaction project and creating a code base that allows for many forms of complex, layered interaction between machines and humans. One example is a “smart” elevator, which senses when you need a ride. Another is a robot receptionist who can help book your trips around the Redmond campus.

    The sun is out and it’s time to dust off those skates. Topping the list of new apps this week is "Rollerblade® Inline Skates" for Windows Phone 8. With it, you can track your activity, connect with friends, find new skates and compete against others on the leader board. Also out this week for Windows Phone is "BikeMania2". Ride on a hair-raising motocross course that challenges you to zoom through more than 100 high-flying levels. Or, if paint-by-number is more your style, check out "Crayola Color, Draw & Sing" and let your kiddos’ imaginations run wild with a clever combination of art and music. 

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    Speaking of running wild, Microsoft’s proved it’s keeping up with the changing media consumption environment with three key announcements Monday at the 2014 National Association of Broadcasters’ exhibition: a new Microsoft Azure customer in FansChoice TV, a critical industry partnership with video analytics firm Ooyala and a new studio-grade solution for broadcasters with Skype TX.

    As we welcome the sun, Australia bids their summer adieu. Still, there was some bright news from our friends down under this week. Queensland, the second-largest state in Australia, will partner with Microsoft to bring Office 365 to 149,000 government employees. This move is a big step toward standardization and simplification of Internet and communications technology for the country’s second-largest state, and one the government hopes will enable new forms of knowledge sharing, collaboration and interconnectivity.

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    Because one robot story is never enough, we bring you team xbot and the Microsoft mentors helping disadvantaged youth get a head start in computer science and engineering by building life-size, giant-ball-throwing robots. In the latest installment of “On the Whiteboard” we give you a front-row seat for a recent competition and all of the accompanying robot ruckus.

    This week on the Microsoft Facebook page, we celebrated National Siblings Day.

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    Here’s hoping your weekend is full of just the right kind of ruckus. See you back here for more stories in bloom next week.

    Posted by Aimee Riordan
    Microsoft News Center Staff

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    Details: http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_blog/archive/2014/04/11/weekend-reading-april-11th-edition-nokia-devices-and-services-acquisition-approved-in-china-plus-two-awesome-robot-stories.aspx

  • San Francisco City and County moving to Office 365 for cloud email

    The City and County of San Francisco is upgrading its cloud email to Office 365 for 29,000 employees to improve how key public safety services – law enforcement, fire and rescue, and health – are delivered to citizens, and to reduce IT management costs, writes Michael Donlan, Microsoft Vice President, U.S. State and Local Government.

    Marc Touitou, chief information officer of San Francisco, said city officials believe San Francisco will be “the first city and county of its size to complete a Microsoft Office 365 for Government cloud transition in which each of the departments — including police and safety, as well as health — will be on one integrated platform.”

    Donlan writes that that government agencies are looking for a solution they can trust that addresses security and privacy policy regulatory requirements, and that Office 365 meets those standards.

    “At Microsoft, our goal is to be the best in the industry in meeting the needs of our state and local customers by delivering trustworthy cloud computing solutions across virtually any device,” he writes.

    To learn more, head over to the Microsoft in Government Blog.

    You might also be interested in:

    · Queensland, Australia chooses Office 365 for its 149,000 government employees
    · A range of affordable Windows devices is available for powering the future of education
    · North Carolina’s largest county chooses Office 365, Windows Azure and Surface Pro

    Suzanne Choney
    Microsoft News Center Staff

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    Details: http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_blog/archive/2014/04/10/city-and-county-of-san-francisco-upgrade-cloud-email-to-office-365.aspx

  • Queensland Government partners with Microsoft to bring Office 365 to 149,000 government employees

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    Queensland, the second-largest state in Australia, will partner with Microsoft to bring Office 365 to 149,000 government employees as a major step in the state’s Information and Communications Technologies strategy to transform digital services, take a positive step toward the standardization and simplification of ICT across government and enable new forms of knowledge sharing, collaboration and interconnectivity.

    With a population of 4.7 million, about half of Queensland’s residents live in the capital city of Brisbane, with the rest living in other areas of the sprawling state, which is larger than Alaska, and is home to the Great Barrier Reef. Tourism is a major economic driver in Queensland, as is the export of coal, natural gas and iron ore.

    Queensland’s “ICT Strategy 2013-2017” is a blueprint designed to improve services for Queenslanders by better use and analysis of government data, and by using modern, cost-efficient technology. Queensland’s use of Office 365 for messaging and email, and the enterprise social network Yammer, will help government employees communicate and collaborate in a more seamless fashion.

    “It’s a good news story out of the Queensland Government’s ICT Renewal Agenda and ICT Strategy 2013-17 that benefits government and Queenslanders,” said the Hon. Ian Walker MP, Minister for Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts.

    “It is also a significant step forward in our plan to modernize the government ICT environment and move toward the vision of ICT as a service,” Walker said. “It sees us move from a government owned and operated model to one that leverages world class solutions to deliver flexibility and economies of scale that drive innovation and transformation.”

    Using Office 365 means that the government will have always up-to-date IT services, with access to the best and latest cloud technologies from Microsoft. It will help drive improvements to the Queensland government’s digital environment and provide greater capabilities for the government to engage with Queenslanders in new and innovative channels so it can provide services to its constituents more effectively.

    Office 365 will also underpin better workforce flexibility, mobility and collaboration, and facilitate creative approaches to problem solving. It will also provide a foundation for standardization and simplification: All employees will have access to the same capabilities and tools, which means information can be exchanged more easily.

    More broadly, this new partnership with the Queensland Government has the potential to transform the state’s digital ecosystem through local industry participation and enable the government to become a leader in the innovation space.

    You might also be interested in:

    · North Carolina’s largest county chooses Office 365, Windows Azure and Surface Pro
    · Workplace cloud file storage and sharing now easier with OneDrive for Business
    · Fourth-largest US school district boots up 1:1 initiative with Microsoft technology

    Posted by Suzanne Choney
    Microsoft News Center Staff

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    Details: http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_blog/archive/2014/04/10/queensland-government-partners-with-microsoft-to-bring-office-365-to-149-000-government-employees.aspx

  • FIRST Robotics competition helps create next generation of engineers

    What do you get when you combine life-size robots, giant rubber balls, alliances vying for victory and a bunch of rowdy teenagers? Mayhem, of course.

    You also get a FIRST Robotics competition that took place recently at Glacier Peak High School in Snohomish, Wash. “On the Whiteboard” Editor Pamela Woon was there to catch all of the robot ruckus, shown in the above video.

    FIRST is a national nonprofit that encourages high school students to grow their science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) know-how by trying their hand at building robots. Approximately 20 Microsoft employees volunteer as mentors for local teams.

    Meet team xbot and learn how they earn their engineering chops, and become a family along the way.

    You might also be interested in:

    · Jamming at the corner of cloud and mobile
    · Wonder what the innovators do in their off time? They tinker. In The Garage
    · Learning at the edge of chaos

    Aimee Riordan
    Microsoft News Center Staff

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    Details: http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_blog/archive/2014/04/10/first-robotics-competition-helps-create-next-generation-of-engineers.aspx

  • Privacy authorities across Europe approve Microsoft’s cloud commitments

    The following post is from Brad Smith, General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Legal and Corporate Affairs at Microsoft.


    This is an important week for the protection of our customers’ privacy. The European Union’s data protection authorities have found that Microsoft’s enterprise cloud contracts meet the high standards of EU privacy law. This ensures that our customers can use Microsoft services to move data freely through our cloud from Europe to the rest of the world. Building on this approval, we will now take proactive steps to expand these legal protections to benefit all of our enterprise customers.

    The EU’s 28 data protection authorities acted through their “Article 29 Working Party” to provide this approval via a joint letter. Importantly, Microsoft is the first – and so far the only – company to receive this approval. This recognition applies to Microsoft’s enterprise cloud services – in particular, Microsoft Azure, Office 365, Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Windows Intune.

    By acknowledging that Microsoft’s contractual commitments meet the requirements of the EU’s “model clauses,” Europe’s privacy regulators have said, in effect, that personal data stored in Microsoft’s enterprise cloud is subject to Europe’s rigorous privacy standards no matter where that data is located. This is especially significant given that Europe’s Data Protection Directive sets such a high bar for privacy protection.

    Our customers benefit in three key ways:

    First, should the EU suspend the Safe Harbor Agreement with the U.S., as called for recently by the European Parliament, our enterprise customers won’t need to worry that their use of our cloud services on a worldwide basis will be interrupted or curtailed.

    Second, even if the Safe Harbor Agreement remains in place, it covers only transfers from Europe to the U.S. Our approved contractual commitments, by contrast, enable transfers globally.

    Third, we have had and will continue to do the hard work to ensure that we can comply both technically and operationally with the stringent obligations imposed by these contractual commitments. All of our customers, whether they have operations in Europe or elsewhere, benefit from the strong engineering protections we have put in place as a result.

    Other companies talk about their commitment to comply with EU privacy law – but we’ve enshrined that commitment in our contracts. And Microsoft has done the technical and legal work to ensure our customers with European operations can legally move their data through our services. For customers who care about privacy and compliance, there is no more committed partner than Microsoft.

    Starting July 1, we will ensure that all our enterprise customers benefit from this privacy recognition through our standard agreements. The EU approval requires that customers execute a short, standardized addendum to their current agreements in order to take advantage of this new recognition, and we will create a very simple process to facilitate this.

    Predicting the future is hard. But looking forward, we expect both governments and customers to demand greater transparency and control over how customer content and personal data are protected and where they are stored. While we join others in our industry in calling for governments to respect the free flow of information, we also believe in putting our customers’ needs first. That’s why we previously announced our commitment around implementing encryption and enabling enterprise customers to store their content in existing data centers in their region.

    Ultimately, customers will entrust their information to the cloud only if they have confidence that it will remain secure there. This week’s approval by the European data protection authorities is another important step in ensuring customers trust Microsoft’s cloud services. And this is just the beginning: there is more to come soon.

    For more information about this news and the regulations and data protection authorities mentioned here, please read this FAQ.

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    Details: http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_blog/archive/2014/04/10/privacy-authorities-across-europe-approve-microsoft-s-cloud-commitments.aspx

  • Chinese Ministry of Commerce approves Microsoft-Nokia deal

    The following post is from David Howard, Corporate Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Litigation & Antitrust, Microsoft.


    The Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) on Tuesday announced that it has approved our purchase of Nokia’s Devices and Services business subject to certain conditions. MOFCOM’s decision effectively adopts Microsoft’s current patent licensing practices. In reaching its decision, MOFCOM concluded after its investigation that Microsoft holds approximately 200 patent families that are necessary to build an Android smartphone.

    MOFCOM’s approval is based on a set of commitments which we’ve discussed with MOFCOM during the past few months (the English version of the commitments is here). There was an important principle with which MOFCOM approached these discussions from the beginning: any commitments should be focused on how our future conduct might change after we own the Nokia Devices and Services business, and should not impact our licenses signed in the past or historical practices. It has never been our intent to change our practices after we acquire the Nokia business, so while we disagreed with the premise that our incentives might change in the future, we were happy to discuss commitments on this basis. 

    Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s Devices and Services business has been cleared to close in 16 markets and none of them has taken a different view, with the vast majority clearing the deal without any conditions.

    We are very pleased with this important decision, a critical step forward in allowing us to close the transaction with Nokia, and we appreciate the professionalism shown by MOFCOM during this process.

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    Details: http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_blog/archive/2014/04/08/chinese-ministry-of-commerce-approves-microsoft-nokia-deal.aspx

  • FansChoice.tv and Ooyala choose Microsoft to help them deliver content to anyone, on any device

    The following post is from Susan Hauser, Corporate Vice President, Enterprise and Partner Group, Microsoft.


    On Monday at the 2014 NAB Show exhibition, Microsoft is showing the latest technology innovations for the broadcast media industry. We are also sharing how customers and partners like FansChoice.tv and Ooyala are reaching thousands of viewers with Microsoft technology. Monday’s announcements are part of our ongoing commitment to enable a wide variety of broadcasters to reach more customers using technologies that are secure, easy to use and cost-effective. You will also see us announce the new Microsoft Azure Media Services capabilities and Skype’s new integrated solution for broadcasters “Skype TX”.

    Microsoft Azure Media Services

    With Microsoft Azure Media Services, broadcasters can focus on content and leave the delivery to us.

    FansChoice.tv, a collaboration between American Motorcyclist Association Pro, International Motor Sports Association and NASCAR, turned to Microsoft Azure to quickly build and launch a new live stream-capable website featuring the ability to stream live races and offer access to a library of exciting on-demand racing content. This provided fans at home access to an array of content not covered by broadcast television, via the Web, tablets, smartphones and PCs.

    Ooyala also announced a new strategic relationship with Microsoft to develop, promote and accelerate the deployment of next-generation IP video services utilizing Media Services in conjunction with Ooyala’s Web-based video distribution, analytics and monetization technology. Combining Microsoft’s investments in video infrastructure, encoding, packaging and streaming with Ooyala’s strengths in content management, analytics and monetization provides customers with all the elements they need for online video development.

    As broadcasters look to the cloud to accelerate the delivery of premium content, security is a key consideration. Microsoft is deeply committed to security and, in support of those efforts, is offering a new license delivery service that allows customers to apply Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) or PlayReady encryption to help protect and secure their video content.

    Media Services was built to meet the demands of every broadcaster, so organizations of any size, from NBC Sports to United Kingdom-based blinkbox, have access to a powerful and scalable cloud platform that grows with their business. A recent example is the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, which were delivered to audiences in 22 countries across four continents by broadcasters using Media Services to provide high definition live coverage of every event.

    Skype

    On Monday, we are announcing a new solution available in the coming year for broadcasters, Skype TX, which can make any location in the world a professional studio. Skype TX is studio-grade software that delivers high-quality audio and video output to improve broadcast and media programming to people around the world. Skype TX includes call handling management for multiple, simultaneous Skype calls on one management interface, is free of audio and visual distractions such as call notifications and ads, and maintains HD-SDI Video output and input essential for broadcasters. This improved offering is a result of the recent Skype acquisition of long-time broadcast partner Cat and Mouse. We encourage you to visit www.skypeinmedia.com for more information on how Skype TX can enrich your broadcast and media programming.

    Providing the Platform for the New Media Model

    Over the past decade, cloud computing changed the media landscape immeasurably, offering nearly any media company new delivery options to extend their content to more people.

    Consumers’ options have multiplied as well; the convergence of online, digital content and the myriad of new form factors have created new expectations. Customers can watch what they want, when they want, where they want on screen sizes from 3 inches to 80 inches and everywhere in between. Broadcasters need a solution that delivers on all fronts.

    With Microsoft’s cloud-based offerings, media companies can grow advertising and paid subscription revenues by extending the reach of their digital distribution capabilities and their brand, as well as launching new channels and services more quickly. They also have control over broadcast quality and the customer experience to create an offering that is consistent with their brand.

    With products like Skype TX, Microsoft also empowers content development collaboration between journalists and creative staff. In short, Microsoft is providing the tools that help broadcasters achieve their multi-screen broadcasting goals in a profitable, efficient and timely way. We’re grateful for the opportunity to partner with these organizations to help them reimagine their business and to be a part of this year’s event.

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    Details: http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_blog/archive/2014/04/07/fanschoice-tv-and-ooyala-choose-microsoft-to-help-them-deliver-content-to-anyone-on-any-device.aspx

  • Weekend Reading: April 4th Edition — Cortana coming to Windows Phone 8.1 and Microsoft creates a cloud portal

    This edition of Weekend Reading is all about the Build developer conference in San Francisco where Microsoft unveiled new opportunities for developers, the new Microsoft Azure Preview Portal, Windows Phone 8.1 with Cortana on the way, and updates to Windows 8.1.

    Cortana, your personal virtual assistant in Windows Phone 8.1, was introduced at Build. Cortana is powered by Bing and inspired by the “Halo” character of the same name. She’ll join Windows Phone 8.1 soon in the U.S. in beta, then will launch in the U.S., the U.K. and China in the second half of 2014, with other countries to follow in 2015. Cortana will get better over time by asking questions based on your behavior and checking in with you before she assumes you’re interested in something. All the info Cortana curates for you is stored in Cortana’s Notebook. This information enables Cortana to be proactive and helpful to you throughout the day, just like a real assistant.

    Windows Phone 8.1 brings a new Word Flow Keyboard that’s smart enough to learn your writing style and even knows the names of the people in your contacts list for faster typing. Best of all, the new Word Flow Keyboard lets you glide your fingers over the keys to type very quickly. There’s also Wi-Fi Sense, which will automatically connect you to free public hotspots it finds to help you save cellular data. Data Sense, another new feature, lets you track how much data usage you use in a given month and will give you a breakdown of usage by app so you can see which app is using the most of your data. The new Action Center lets you see notifications from any app – pinned or not – and gives you a customizable way to quickly access the settings you care about most, like Wi-Fi, Flight Mode, Bluetooth and Rotation Lock.

    Windows 8.1 Update, available April 8 for free, gives users a more familiar experience when it comes to using a keyboard and mouse, as well as other changes based on customer feedback. If you like using the desktop, select devices will now boot to the desktop as the default setting. On the Start screen, on select devices you’ll now find the Power and Search buttons at the upper-right corner next to your account picture. On your taskbar, you can now pin both desktop apps and apps from the Windows Store as well as your favorite websites. Pin any app you want to the taskbar – such as Facebook or Flipboard – so you can open or switch between apps right from the desktop. Both the Windows 8.1 Update and Windows Phone 8.1 deliver important capabilities designed for the enterprise. Also, an updated version of Internet Explorer 11 that works across devices was made available Wednesday for Windows 8.1 and Windows 7, and debuted on Windows Phone 8.1.

    At the Build 2014 developers’ conference in San Francisco, Microsoft said it will embrace more kinds of code and share more of its work with the developer community, while removing roadblocks, highlighting Microsoft’s continued commitment to its partners and the developer community by maximizing opportunities across the broadest range of devices and services. Microsoft detailed new developer opportunities on the Windows platform with a common platform across devices, a single toolset, a common infrastructure across the Windows and Windows Phone stores, and a clear commitment to interoperability.

    We also unveiled the Microsoft Azure Preview Portal, a first-of-its kind cloud environment that provides a fully integrated cloud experience, bringing together cross-platform technologies, services and tools that enable developers and businesses to innovate with enterprise-grade scalability at startup speed. The portal is an “important step forward in delivering our promise of the cloud without complexity,” said Scott Guthrie, Microsoft executive vice president of the Cloud and Enterprise Group.

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    We said “hello” to three beautiful new Nokia Lumia smartphones: the flagship Nokia Lumia 930, which delivers the best of Microsoft and Lumia for the ultimate video and imaging experience, and the Nokia Lumia 635 and Nokia Lumia 630, all of which will come with Windows Phone 8.1. The Nokia Lumia 930, with a 5-inch display, has a 20-megapixel PureView camera with ZEISS optics and advanced Rich Recording. The Nokia Lumia 630 is a 3G phone that will be the first Lumia with an option for dual SIM cards for those who want to, say, keep their personal information on one SIM card, and business-related information on the second card.

    Improved Skype for Windows 8.1 and new Skype for Windows Phone 8.1 was announced. On your Windows phone, the emphasis is on having the best Skype experience on the go. You’ll be able to easily upgrade your audio phone calls to Skype video calls, or use Cortana, Windows Phone 8.1’s virtual assistant, to quickly chat with friends and family via Skype. With Windows 8.1, it will be easier to reach the special people in your life across all of your devices: tablets, computers, Xbox and TVs. You also can choose whether you pin Skype to your Start screen or to your taskbar.

    This week on the Microsoft Facebook page, we introduced you to Antoine Bertout, who created a low-bandwidth version of Skype for remote areas in need, like refugee camps. Tell us your story using #ICreatedThis.

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    Thanks for checking out this edition of Weekend Reading. See you next week!

    Posted by Suzanne Choney
    Microsoft News Center Staff

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    Details: http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_blog/archive/2014/04/04/weekend-reading-april-4th-edition-cortana-coming-to-windows-phone-8-1-and-microsoft-creates-a-cloud-portal.aspx

  • Microsoft announces new cloud experience and tools to deliver the cloud without complexity

    The following post is from Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President, Cloud and Enterprise Group, Microsoft.


    On Thursday at Build in San Francisco, we took an important step by unveiling a first-of-its kind cloud environment within Microsoft Azure that provides a fully integrated cloud experience – bringing together cross-platform technologies, services and tools that enable developers and businesses to innovate with enterprise-grade scalability at startup speed. Announced today, our new Microsoft Azure Preview Portal is an important step forward in delivering our promise of the cloud without complexity.

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    With a vision to speed up and simplify the software delivery process, the Microsoft Azure Preview Portal is bringing together cross-platform tools, technologies, and services from across the company, partners, and the open-source community in a single integrated workspace.

    When cloud computing was born, it was hailed as the solution that developers and business had been waiting for – the promise of a quick and easy way to get more from your business-critical apps without the hassle and cost of infrastructure. But as the industry transitions toward mobile-first, cloud-first business models and scenarios, the promise of “quick and easy” is now at stake. There’s no question that developing for a world that is both mobile-first and cloud-first is complicated. Developers are managing thousands of virtual machines, cobbling together management and automation solutions, and working in unfamiliar environments just to make their apps work in the cloud – driving down productivity as a result.

    Many cloud vendors tout the ease and cost savings of the cloud, but they leave customers without the tools or capabilities to navigate the complex realities of cloud computing. That’s why today we are continuing down a path of rapid innovation. In addition to our groundbreaking new Microsoft Azure Preview Portal, we announced several enhancements our customers need to fully tap into the power of the cloud. These include:

    · Dozens of enhancements to our Azure services across Web, mobile, data and our infrastructure services

    · Further commitment to building the most open and flexible cloud with Azure support for automation software from Puppet Labs and Chef.

    · We’ve removed the throttle off our Application Insights preview, making it easier for all developers to build, manage and iterate on their apps in the cloud with seamless integration into the IDE

    We also demonstrated our ongoing commitment to our .NET developer community with the announcement of the .NET Foundation, which fosters open development and delivers a transparent roadmap around .NET. We will also be making the .NET Compilers Preview (“Rosyln”) available through the .NET Foundation.

    We recognize that developing for the cloud can be a challenge, but it shouldn’t be. Today marks an important milestone in our cloud journey. We envision a world where customers can simply experience the benefits – and the promise – of the cloud, without sacrificing scale, speed or cost.

    Visit the Build Newsroom for more information on Thursday’s news and to watch the keynote. You can also see more about Thursday’s news specific to Microsoft Azure on Scott Guthrie’s personal blog.

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    Details: http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_blog/archive/2014/04/03/microsoft-announces-new-cloud-experience-and-tools-to-deliver-the-cloud-without-complexity.aspx

  • Microsoft to developers at Build: You have the power

    On Wednesday at the Build developer conference in San Francisco, Microsoft outlined new opportunities for developers and showed how businesses can benefit from new capabilities in the Windows 8.1 update and Windows Phone 8.1.

    The company also showed how Cortana, a new digital assistant, is powered by Bing. Finally, updates to Internet Explorer 11 and a new and improved Skype for Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 were also unveiled.

    Microsoft outlines new opportunities for developers

    Microsoft announced updates that put developers first with a focus on interoperability across devices and the cloud, while granting access to Cortana.

    Microsoft will embrace more kinds of code and share more of its work with the developer community, while removing roadblocks, according to Kevin Gallo, Windows Phone director of program management. As part of this effort, Visual Studio Update 2 RC includes Universal Projects, which allows developers to create apps that tailor easily to experiences across multiple screens.

    Microsoft is also making the API available for virtual assistant Cortana, and will expose new enhancements to the Speech API that allows developers to directly utilize more types of natural verbal exchanges in app creation.

    Developers will be able to interact with tablets and Windows computers in new ways as well. With the release of Kinect for Windows v2 in June, developers can build Kinect apps for the Windows Store and publish or commercially deploy them later this summer.

    For the rest of this story, check out the Building Apps for Windows blog. Also, Executive Vice President of Terry Myerson shared his thoughts on the first day of Build over on Blogging Windows.

    What’s new for businesses in the Windows 8.1 update and Windows Phone 8.1

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    The Windows 8.1 Update and Windows Phone 8.1 deliver important capabilities designed for the businesses.

    The Windows 8.1 Update, available Wednesday on MSDN and TechNet, via Windows Update on April 8, and for Volume Licensing customers later this month, includes better Internet Explorer compatibility, user interface improvements and deeper control over your organization’s policy settings with extended Mobile Device Management.

    The update also enables Microsoft’s hardware partners to deliver low-cost machines that require only 1 GB of RAM and 16GB HDD. Hardware partners will be able to access free Windows Phone licenses and free Windows licenses for devices smaller than 9 inches to further drive innovation and reduce prices.

    Windows Phone 8.1 includes a built-in Mobile Device Management client that allows IT organizations to manage devices within their management system of choice, such as Windows Intune, MobileIron and AirWatch.

    To learn more, head over to the Windows for your Business blog.

    Cortana is powered by Bing

    Bing technology powers Cortana, your new personal assistant in Windows Phone 8.1, and while the results you’ll get will reflect Bing’s extensive knowledge, there’s also more to Cortana than reciting facts and figures.

    The technology behind Cortana, Bing.com and other Microsoft products is a platform that combines Bing’s massive investments toward indexing the real world with speech recognition, language and entity understanding, and stream processing that, taken together, make Bing more personal, helpful and intelligent, writes Mike Calcagno, Bing partner development manager.

    To learn more about the technology behind Cortana, head on over to the Bing blog.

    Introducing Skype, new and improved, for Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 8.1

    Joining the long list of exciting announcements Wednesday was a sneak peek into the upcoming Skype app for Windows Phone 8.1 and Skype updates to Windows 8.1.

    The emphasis for the app is on having the best Skype experience on the go, says Lara Kingwell, a product marketing manager at Skype. You’ll be able to easily upgrade your audio phone calls to Skype video calls, or use Cortana, Windows Phone 8.1’s virtual assistant, to quickly chat with friends and family via Skype.

    When you buy a Windows Phone 8.1 device or update your existing Windows Phone, Skype will be pre-installed with selected carriers and ready to use, giving you an easy, affordable way to connect with the people who matter most.

    Check out the Skype Big Blog for more on Skype for the new Windows Phone and Windows 8.1.

    Internet Explorer 11 gets updated

    An updated version of Internet Explorer 11 for Windows 8.1, Windows 7 and Windows Phone 8.1 was also introduced at Build.

    The Windows 8.1 Update will be available for download on MSDN and TechNet, with automatic updates beginning April 8 for both Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 customers.

    IE11 also adapts to your browsing experience by detecting your Windows device and input type – whether it’s an 8-inch touch tablet in portrait mode or a 24-inch desktop with mouse and keyboard.

    With IE11 for Windows Phone and Live Sites, you can now pin your favorite sites directly to your Start Screen for information from the Web at a glance. Reading Mode helps you optimize the view of articles as if you were reading a digital book on your phone. Voice Commands get you quickly to your favorite websites by speaking naturally to your device.

    To learn more about the IE 11 update, head over to the IE Blog.

    Posted by Jeff Meisner
    Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog

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    Details: http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_blog/archive/2014/04/02/microsoft-to-developers-at-build-you-have-the-power.aspx

  • Microsoft unveils updates to Windows and Windows Phone at Build 2014

    On Wednesday, Microsoft took the wraps off of Windows Phone 8.1 and announced updates to Windows 8.1 at the Build developer conference in San Francisco.

    The company also outlined new opportunities for developers. Finally, Nokia also announced three new Lumia smartphones that will run on Windows Phone 8.1.

    Meet Cortana and check out the Windows Phone 8.1 update

    Windows Phone Vice President Joe Belfiore kicked off the morning with an introduction of Windows Phone 8.1, and Cortana, the personal digital assistant for Windows Phone.

    Cortana is powered by Bing, and gets better over time by asking questions based on your behavior and checking in with you before she assumes you’re interested in something, Belfiore said. “She detects and monitors the stuff you care about, looks out for you throughout the day, and helps filter out the noise so you can focus on what matters to you.”

    Cortana will be available soon in the U.S. in beta, then will launch in the U.S., the U.K. and China in the second half of 2014, with other countries to follow in 2015.

    Other changes for Windows Phone 8.1 include:

    · The addition of an Action Center. While Live Tiles are a great way to “glance and go,” the new Action Center lets you see notifications from any app – pinned or not — and gives you a customizable way to quickly access the settings you care about most, like Wi-Fi, Flight Mode, Bluetooth and Rotation Lock.

    · The new Word Flow Keyboard: The keyboard in Windows Phone is smart enough to learn your writing style and even knows the names of people in your contacts for faster typing. Best of all, the new Word Flow Keyboard lets you glide your fingers over the keys to type very quickly.

    · Skype integration: The new Skype app for Windows Phone 8.1 brings the best of Skype on a smartphone. It’s integrated with the phone dialer, so if you’re on a call you can quickly and easily “upgrade” your audio phone call to a Skype video call at the tap of a button.

    To learn more about Windows Phone 8.1, head over to the Windows Phone Blog or read the press release.

    The curtain lifts on the Windows 8.1 Update

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    The Windows 8.1 Update is free and gives users a more familiar experience when it comes to using a keyboard and mouse, as well as other changes based on customer feedback. If you like using the desktop, select devices will now boot to the desktop as the default setting. On the Start screen, on select devices you’ll now find the Power and Search buttons at the upper-right corner next to your account picture.

    On your taskbar, you can now pin both desktop apps and apps from the Windows Store as well as your favorite websites. Pin any app you want to the taskbar – such as Facebook or Flipboard – so you can open or switch between apps right from the desktop.

    To learn more, head over to the Windows Experience Blog or read the press release.

    New developer opportunities and three new Lumia smartphones

    Microsoft detailed new developer opportunities on the Windows platform with a common platform across devices, a single toolset, a common infrastructure across the Windows and Windows Phone stores, and a clear commitment to interoperability. The announcements highlight Microsoft’s continued commitment to its partners and the developer community by maximizing opportunities across the broadest range of devices and services.

    Also as a part of the conference, Nokia announced three new Lumia smartphones for Windows Phone 8.1, including the flagship Lumia 930, the affordable Lumia 635 and the first dual-SIM Lumia 630.

    For the full story on new developer opportunities and the new Lumia smartphones from Nokia, head on over to the Microsoft News Center.

    Posted by Jeff Meisner
    Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog

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    Details: http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_blog/archive/2014/04/02/microsoft-unveils-updates-to-windows-and-windows-phone-at-build-2014.aspx

  • Tune in to the Build 2014 webcast

    Build 2014 takes place from April 2-4 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, with keynotes on the mornings of April 2 and April 3 from 8:30 a.m. PT – 11:30 a.m. PT.

    You can watch the keynote livestreams over on Channel 9. For the latest Build 2014-related news and developments, visit the Microsoft News Center.

    You might also be interested in:

    · Game, set, match: WTA app brings the latest on the stars of women’s tennis to your Windows PC or tablet
    · Batter up! No chance you’ll swing and miss with these 5 baseball apps for Windows and Windows Phone
    · Pricing updates to Microsoft Azure cloud services announced

    Posted by Jeff Meisner
    Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog

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    Details: http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_blog/archive/2014/04/02/tune-in-to-the-build-2014-webcast.aspx

  • Japanese banking company migrates 30,000 client terminals from Windows XP to Windows 8

    cs_win8Resona

    Resona Holdings, Inc., which oversees the operations of Resona Bank and other group subsidiaries in Japan, has migrated 30,000 client terminals used within the Resona Group from Windows XP to Windows 8 and Office 2013. It’s one of the largest such deployments ever made in Japan, according to Microsoft Japan.

    The company finished the migration at the end of February, ahead of the April 8 end of support deadline for both Windows XP and Office 2003, which had been running on its group client terminals.

    “We decided to migrate straight to Windows 8, and there was no opposition to the approach of leveraging the latest products to boost efficiency,” said Tetsuya Shiratori, Resona Holdings’ executive officer and general manager, information technology planning division.

    Shiratori said the migration operation was managed with unprecedented speed by using Microsoft System Center 2012 Configuration Manager.

    The company also achieved significant cost savings by replacing approximately half of the group’s client PCs with new computers, while continuing to use PCs that had been in use for two years, and only required a software upgrade.

    Resona is using BitLocker drive encryption technology available in Windows 8 Enterprise to create a stronger security environment. In conjunction with the migration, the company also adopted Microsoft System Center 2012 Endpoint Protection, Microsoft System Center 2012 Configuration Manager and Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2013.

    For more information, read the press release.

    You might also be interested in:

    · Bridgestone Asia Pacific to use Windows mobile cloud to improve customer service, productivity
    · LexisNexis uses exclusive apps, Q-and-As and breaking news to draw employees to Yammer
    · Study: Once a business has Lync 2013, it doesn’t take long to reap the economic rewards

    Suzanne Choney
    Microsoft News Center Staff

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    Details: http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_blog/archive/2014/04/01/japanese-banking-company-migrates-30-000-client-terminals-from-windows-xp-to-windows-8.aspx

  • Weekend Reading: March 28th Edition—Office for iPad is one of many mobile-first, cloud-first releases

    In this edition of Weekend Reading, we've got stories on the release of Office for iPad (as well as the Enterprise Mobility Suite and other mobile-first, cloud-first products), and Microsoft Azure being made available in China.

    Office arrives on the iPad. In San Francisco Thursday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made several announcements, including the release of Word, Excel and PowerPoint on the iPad. Built from the ground up for touch, it’s still unmistakably Office. You can read Word documents, use Excel data and present with PowerPoint for free. With an Office 365 subscription, you can edit and create new documents.

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    Nadella also spoke about the strategy and investments Microsoft is making to deliver a cloud for everyone and every device. Prominent in that goal are the release of the new Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite and the upcoming availability in April of the Azure Active Directory (AD) Premium identity and access management service. And, you can find Miranda Luna, a product marketing manager for the services in Microsoft Azure that help with mobile app development, jamming on that corner of cloud and mobile.

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    Updated visual design for self-service group management experience

    Microsoft Azure is now is now generally available in China through 21Vianet. This significant milestone makes Microsoft the first global company to make onshore public cloud services available to customers in China, where IDC reports a sustained growth rate of more than 40 percent in the public cloud service market since 2012. In the UK, blinkbox used Microsoft Azure to encode and catalog its vast library for the streaming service’s million monthly users.

    Get to know James Mickens, “The Galactic Viceroy of Research Excellence.” To talk to this researcher is to step into a Technicolor world saturated with humor, absurdity and profound intelligence. Find out why Mickens considers an ability to connect with people – more so than even raw intelligence – to be the key to his success as a researcher.

    clip_image002

    New apps bring more gaming, sports and movies to Xbox One and Xbox 360. On Monday, the Major League Gaming (MLG) app launched on Xbox 360. With the MLG app, Xbox Live Gold members can watch all of MLG.tv’s programming, like the upcoming “Call of Duty” Championship. Fans can indulge in spring fever with Major League Baseball games on Xbox One. Or, kick back with movies and TV shows on Encore Play and Movieplex Play from Starz. Over in the Windows Phone Store and Windows Store, we saw prime picks in the App of the Week: Office Lens, as well as Staff App Pick: Pradux. If you’re looking for love, check out eHarmony. If crazy go-kart racing is more for you, then “Angry Birds Go!” should be in your wheelhouse. World Cup fans can kick up their heels with “FIFA 14” from the Windows Store, and it’s also available in the Windows Phone Store.

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    Microsoft sponsors We Day Seattle and We Day California 2014 and helps inspire more young people to make changes in their communities and the world. Over the past week, Microsoft participated in We Day Seattle and We Day California, part of the company’s three-year commitment to sponsor Free the Children’s signature We Day event and the We Act yearlong, in-school community service program in Washington and California. Through their community service, more than 30,000 youth earned their way to We Day Seattle March 21 and We Day California March 26. Check out photos of the events in this slideshow.

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    This week on the Microsoft Facebook page, we introduced you to David Zivot, whose app helps people bake like it’s 1869. Check out his secret recipe, and tell us your story using #ICreatedThis.

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    Thanks for checking out this edition of Weekend Reading. Hope you’re enjoying spring, wherever you are! See you next week!

    Posted by Athima Chansanchai
    Microsoft News Center Staff

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    Details: http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_blog/archive/2014/03/28/weekend-reading-march-28th-edition-office-for-ipad-is-one-of-many-mobile-first-cloud-first-releases.aspx

  • A cloud for everyone, on every device

    The following post is from Satya Nadella, Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft.


    In my initial remarks as CEO, I spoke about how Microsoft is embracing the new “mobile-first cloud-first” world. I’ve gotten great feedback around this declaration from customers, employees and partners who are excited to see us communicate this commitment so emphatically. I’ve also been asked a number of interesting questions about the language I used. A common one is actually the simplest and most important to answer: How can two things be first?

    My honest answer is that I don’t think of the cloud and mobile as two things. They are two facets of one thing. The cloud was created to enable mobility. And mobile devices are really uninteresting without the cloud.

    That’s why I talk about them together. Mobile without cloud is limiting. The cloud without mobile is mostly latent potential. But the place where they meet is magic. And in the full arc of time, we will get to a world of ubiquitous computing and ambient intelligence that powers all our daily experiences. That’s my focus for this blog post: not everything that Microsoft does but specifically how Microsoft’s cloud is enabling a world where mobile devices can do more and help people be more productive starting today.

    We live in a world where device types, shapes, sizes and form factors are exploding and will continue to do so. Devices extend our abilities in ways that are uniquely suited to task, context and occasion. As long as human curiosity and ambition drive us to create new things, capture moments and collaborate to get things done, we should expect the world of devices to follow suit. In fact, that’s what drives our ongoing evolution of Windows: the desire to maximize the capabilities of these diverse device types while fitting perfectly into those unique moments and environments. But just because human activity will continue to be multidevice doesn’t mean we must tolerate islands of isolated capability. Instead, device diversification dramatically increases the importance of creating a more seamless experience. And the way we get there is through the cloud.

    The cloud is how a phone, a tablet, a computer and a TV all get on the same page and enable movement between them without extra effort. The cloud is how a device becomes your device. And the cloud is how your device becomes part of your life, by connecting to all the people, information and experiences that matter to you. And for us, the cloud is also how a tablet becomes a useful and powerful tool.

    So with that in mind, I’d like to talk about how we’re enabling a world in which anyone can make things happen, on their terms.

    A great idea shouldn’t have to wait for you to get back to a particular device. An impromptu call with a customer shouldn’t be delayed because you don’t have the right data on hand. Life moves too fast to put limits on where and how you work. Just as the best camera is the one you have with you, sometimes the right device is the one closest at hand. Simply put, our vision is to deliver the best cloud-connected experience on every device.

    We’re bringing Office, the gold standard in getting things done, to the iPad. A billion people rely on Office every day, and we’ve worked diligently to create a version of Word, Excel and PowerPoint that delivers the best productivity experience available on the iPad. It’s built from the ground up for touch, is unmistakably Office in its design, and is optimized for iPad. Office for iPad offers unmatched rendering of content and delivers unparalleled authoring, analysis and presentation experiences that Office customers expect on all of their devices. Download it today for free.

    We’ve offered Office on the Mac for more than 20 years. Taking the next step and making it available for iPad users too is another way Office delivers on its promise to give anyone the power to make things, and make things happen, any moment of the day.

    And we are fully committed to offering market-leading productivity solutions across all popular platforms and devices. Word, Excel and PowerPoint for iPad join other cross-platform apps including Skype, Dynamics, Xbox Music, Bing, Lync, Yammer, OneNote, Office Mobile for iPhone and Android phones, Mac Office, and Office Online. Our goal continues to be to delight users wherever they are and on whatever device they are using by giving them the full power of native Office apps.

    Of course, people engage in an amazingly diverse array of activities on the job today, and it would be naive to think that Office could cover every task, scenario or requirement out of the box. That’s why developers are so important. They imagine and build the additional and more specialized capabilities that drive business forward. So we make the same platforms that we use to develop and deliver these cross-platform services available to developers. They can use Azure Mobile Services to build back-ends for iOS, Android and Windows devices. Azure AD API enables single sign-on and other directory services. We have APIs for all components of Office 365 including OneDrive, OneNote, Exchange and SharePoint so that any mobile application on any device platform can seamlessly access user data. Developers are living on the frontier of this mobile-first cloud-first world, and we’re committed to helping them make the most of their unique position and opportunity. They share our commitment and passion for giving people the power to get things done.

    At the same time, that power needs to be managed. I’m sure you know the story of the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice.” It’s all great until it isn’t. And if management and security take more time and money than they save you, where’s the productivity gain?

    That’s why we aren’t just focused on one dimension of the experience. The people who use apps and services want things to be seamless. One sign-on, one set of files, one consistent identity, regardless of device type. It’s a reasonable request, but the people who support these users know it isn’t always that simple. So we’re also introducing our new Enterprise Mobility Suite to make managing and securing these devices as easy as using them. So employees are free to go where they want, without data ending up where it shouldn’t. And it can also extend your enterprise identity to other apps and services like Salesforce.com, Box and Google Docs. Now, the same cloud that helps people get more done with less work will help IT do the same.

    We’re a few days away from BUILD, our developer conference, where next week we’ll share where we’re going with key platforms like Windows, Windows Phone, Xbox and Azure. BUILD is also a great forum for highlighting one of the defining characteristics of our company: From our very first days as a company we have always been equally committed to meeting the diverse but intertwined needs of developers, businesses and the people who use our products. We unite these three audiences around a common set of experiences, technologies and tools. Tools for writing and deploying apps and services, tools for managing and securing devices and tools for getting things done. All working in concert with one another, all through the cloud. For the cloud to realize its full potential, the needs of these three constituencies must be addressed in a holistic, integrated way. Microsoft is in a unique position to do that.

    The cloud is enabling a world where you can walk up to any supported device, sign in, collaborate, communicate and share your creations with the world. Doesn’t matter what you make, where you make it or what device you use. The cloud is there to help.

    That’s where we’re headed together. Into a world where the devices you love work with the services you love in a way that IT and developers love. For work, play and everything in between.

    ..

    Details: http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_blog/archive/2014/03/27/a-cloud-for-everyone-on-every-device.aspx

  • Microsoft Azure the perfect solution for on-demand video service blinkbox

    Leave it to the cloud to make even movie viewing a better experience. That’s what Microsoft Azure did for blinkbox and the streaming service’s million monthly users.

    The United Kingdom-based company, owned by Tesco, the country’s biggest retailer, needed a way to ensure the on-demand content looked great on every device for its customers.

    Blinkbox employed Microsoft Azure to encode and catalog its vast library, streamlining the process so that what once took weeks now takes just days, or even hours.

    “It means we can make the latest movies and TV programs available very quickly so our customers can enjoy them as soon as they’re released on whatever device they choose,” says Jon Robinson, blinkbox’s group head of information technology.

    Another issue was storing the data.

    Blinkbox is adding 1.5 terabytes a day, or the equivalent of more than 300 DVDs, to its massive library, a number that will only grow as the company continues to expand its selection and keep up with new video formats.

    “We felt that Microsoft Azure was the best solution to address these huge challenges and make sure our customers get the best experience possible,” Robinson says.

    Cliff Evans, Azure lead at Microsoft UK, calls blinkbox a classic example of an innovative, young company utilizing cloud-based services to reduce its brick and mortar overhead.

    For more details on this cloud — and customer — success story, head over to the UK News Centre.

    Aimee Riordan
    Microsoft News Center Staff

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    Details: http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_blog/archive/2014/03/26/microsoft-azure-the-perfect-solution-for-on-demand-video-service-blinkbox.aspx

  • Microsoft becomes the first global public cloud provider in China with the general availability of Microsoft Azure in the region

    The following post is from Takeshi Numoto, Corporate Vice President, Cloud & Enterprise Marketing, Microsoft.


    In May of last year, we announced that Microsoft Azure would be coming to China, launching a public preview to support the growing appetite for cloud services in this important region. Today, I am pleased to share that Microsoft Azure, operated by 21Vianet, is now generally available for our customers in China. This significant milestone makes us the first global company to make onshore public cloud services available to customers in China, through 21Vianet.

    IDC reports a sustained growth rate of more than 40 percent in the public cloud service market in China since 2012, making the market a particular hot spot for cloud. Microsoft has more than 20 years of experience delivering our products and services to China. Now through our unique partnership with 21Vianet, we are delighted that customers throughout China will be able to experience world-class public cloud services powered by Microsoft Azure.

    To ensure a compliant, enterprise-grade public cloud experience, Microsoft has partnered with 21Vianet within China to deliver Microsoft Azure to our customers in the region. 21Vianet is a trusted and reliable partner who can deliver the quality and reliability that Microsoft Azure customers require, delivering Azure service from multiple locations in China to enable critical disaster recovery scenarios. In fact, 21Vianet has already delivered fully functional cloud services to more than 3,000 customers in China, including CNTV, LineKong, GMW.cn and Coca-Cola China.

    Coming on the heels of the general availability of Microsoft Azure for Japan just last month, this is yet another rapidly delivered milestone in our strategy to bring the benefit of Microsoft’s enterprise-grade cloud technologies to people and businesses around the world. Cloud computing is a big part of the future for China, and we are thrilled to play a role in bringing this future to our customers.

    ..

    Details: http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_blog/archive/2014/03/26/microsoft-becomes-the-first-global-public-cloud-provider-in-china-with-the-general-availability-of-microsoft-azure-in-the-region.aspx

  • Microsoft makes source code for MS-DOS and Word for Windows available to public

    The following post is from Roy Levin, distinguished engineer and managing director, Microsoft Research Silicon Valley.


    MS-DOS Operating Systems

    On Tuesday, we dusted off the source code for early versions of MS-DOS and Word for Windows. With the help of the Computer History Museum, we are making this code available to the public for the first time.

    The museum has done an excellent job of curating some of the most significant historical software programs in computing history. As part of this ongoing project, the museum will make available two of the most widely used software programs of the 1980’s, MS DOS 1.1 and 2.0 and Microsoft Word for Windows 1.1a, to help future generations of technologists better understand the roots of personal computing.

    In 1980, IBM approached Microsoft to work on a project code-named “Chess.” What followed was a significant milestone in the history of the personal computer. Microsoft, at the time, provided the BASIC language interpreter for IBM. However, they had other plans and asked Microsoft to create an operating system. Without their own on hand, Microsoft licensed an operating system from Seattle Computer Products which would become the foundation for PC-DOS and MS-DOS.

    IBM and Microsoft developed a unique relationship that paved the way for advancements in the nascent personal computer industry, and subsequent advancements in personal computing.

    Bill Gates was interviewed by David Bunnell just after the launch of the IBM PC in the early 1980s for PC Magazine’s inaugural issue, and provided the backstory: “For more than a year, 35 of Microsoft's staff of 100 worked fulltime (and plenty of overtime) on the IBM project. Bulky packages containing computer gear and other goodies were air-expressed almost daily between the Boca Raton [IBM] laboratory and Seattle [Microsoft]. An electronic message system was established and there was almost always someone flying the arduous 4,000 mile commute.”

    Following closely on the heels of MS DOS, Microsoft released the first DOS-based version of Microsoft Word in 1983, which was designed to be used with a mouse. However, it was the 1989 release of Word for Windows that became a blockbuster for the company and within four years it was generating over half the revenue of the worldwide word-processing market. Word for Windows was a remarkable engineering and marketing achievement, and we are happy to provide its source code to the museum.

    It’s mind-boggling to think of the growth from those days when Microsoft had under 100 employees and a Microsoft product (MS-DOS) had less than 300KB (yes, kilobytes) of source code. From those roots we’ve grown in a few short decades to become a company that has sold more than 200 million licenses of Windows 8 and has over 1 billion people using Microsoft Office. Great things come from modest beginnings, and the great Microsoft devices and services of the future will probably start small, just as MS-DOS and Word for Windows did.

    Thanks to the Computer History Museum, these important pieces of source code will be preserved and made available to the community for historical and technical scholarship.

    ..

    Details: http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_blog/archive/2014/03/25/microsoft-makes-source-code-for-ms-dos-and-word-for-windows-available-to-public.aspx

  • Jamming at the corner of Cloud and Mobile

    Editor's note: The following is a post by Jennifer Warnick, a writer for microsoft.com/stories.


    No matter what generation she hails from, or whether you meet her on instant message, on horseback, or on stage speaking at a tech convention – Miranda Luna is a force.

    The 23-year-old, who typically dresses in jeans and a leather jacket, has long, brown hair and sports a massive smile – sports it most of the time, in fact. Luna works as a product marketing manager for the services in Windows Azure that help with mobile app development, which is a job titlese way of describing how she helps mobile developers of all stripes (iOS, Android and Windows) make their apps more powerful, more quick, more affordable, more reliable – more everything, really.

    “Azure Mobile Service, that’s my jam,” Luna says. ”Notification Hubs, too. What’s great about these services is they’re so complimentary. Mobile Services is basically a back-end in a box – data storage, user authentication, push notifications and a scripting environment for adding business logic. Notification Hubs provides a massively scalable push notification engine for delivering millions of personalized notifications in minutes, regardless of platform or what back-end an app is using.”

    Read the full profile at microsoft.com/stories.

    ..

    Details: http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_blog/archive/2014/03/24/jamming-at-the-corner-of-cloud-and-mobile.aspx

  • Get to know Microsoft’s Galactic Viceroy of Research Excellence

    The following is a post by Thomas Kohnstamm, a writer for microsoft.com/stories.


    It only takes a few seconds in the presence of James Mickens to understand why he’s known as “The Galactic Viceroy of Research Excellence” rather than his official title of “Researcher.” To talk to James is to step into a Technicolor world saturated with humor, absurdity and profound intelligence.

    When I asked him to interview for this story, James suggested that I accompany him instead “on a one-man Special Forces mission to rescue some rare Bengali pandas from a Renton-based Hezbollah cell.” He then proceeded to grill me about my food allergies because, he deadpanned, “Many of my ninja throwing stars are made of compostable peanut resin.”

    We never did rescue those poor pandas, but James had already accomplished his mission: to disarm me as a potential adversary and initiate a sense of camaraderie. More importantly, I found that he considers this ability to connect with people – more so than even raw intelligence – to be the key to his success as a researcher.

    Read the full profile at microsoft.com/stories.

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    Details: http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_blog/archive/2014/03/24/get-to-know-microsoft-s-galactic-viceroy-of-research-excellence.aspx

  • An update on Nokia Devices and Services acquisition

    The following post is from Brad Smith, General Counsel & Executive Vice President, Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft.


    We wanted to provide a brief update on the status of the regulatory process for approval of Microsoft’s acquisition of the Nokia Devices and Services business. We are nearing the final stages of our global regulatory approval process – to date we have received approvals from regulatory authorities in 15 markets on five continents. Currently, we are awaiting approval confirmation in the final markets. This work has been progressing, and we expect to close next month, in April 2014.

    The completion of this acquisition will mark the first step to bring Microsoft and the Nokia Devices and Services business together. Our acquisition will accelerate our mobile-first, cloud-first imperatives. We’re looking forward to accelerating innovation and market adoption for Windows Phones and introducing the next billion customers to Microsoft services via Nokia mobile phones.

    In the interim, our top priority continues to be maintaining a great experience for consumers and business continuity for our partners. 

    We remain as excited as ever to welcome the Nokia Devices and Services business officially as part of the Microsoft family. 

    ..

    Details: http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_blog/archive/2014/03/23/an-update-on-nokia-devices-and-services-acquisition.aspx

  • Weekend Reading: March 21st Edition – The Madness of March, SQL Server 2014 and a school in the cloud

    Winter is supposed to go out like lamb, but here at Weekend Reading it’s proven to be more like a lion. Check out this roaring lineup …

    March means Madness — the kind that comes with back-to-back-to-back college basketball. It may be too late to use predictions from Microsoft Research’s statistician extraordinaire, David Rothschild for your bracket this year, but you can still take a lesson from his technique.

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    Microsoft Research’s Leslie Lamport wins what’s widely regarded as the “Nobel Prize in Computing”: the 2013 Association for Computing Machinery A.M. Turing Award for his work “imposing clear, well-defined coherence on the seemingly chaotic behavior of distributed computing systems.” The award comes with a $250,000 prize. Check out Lamport’s impressive career.

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    Speaking of impressive, North Carolina’s largest county announced Thursday it’s opted for Office 365, Surface Pro and Windows Azure. Together, the seamless mobility, productivity and flexibility of these solutions have already helped various departments within Mecklenburg County collaborate better with staff, integrate across a number of crucial systems and streamline daily responsibilities.

    In with spring and in with SQL Server 2014, released to manufacturing Wednesday and generally available April 1. SQL Server has garnered market share because it meets the increasingly demanding needs of business customers of all sizes. This release is significant because it embraces in-memory technology.

    If you’re more into speed than roundball, don’t despair: The Formula One season kicked off last weekend with the Australian Grand Prix. You won’t want to be caught without the ESPNF1 app for Windows Phone and all of the heart-pounding news, standings and team and driver information at your fingertips. Or, stop Dr. Doom with all your favorite Marvel superheros with the “Avengers Alliance” app, new for Windows Phone. Choose from more than 20 characters to help your cause, including Spider-Man, Captian America and Hulk. Unwind from an afternoon of fighing evil with “Throne Together,” the delightfully addictive castle building app also available for Windows Phone this week.

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    What is a school without walls, textbooks or teachers? It’s “learning at the edge of chaos,” says TED prize winner Sugata Mitra. It’s also learning fueled by curiousity and technology. Mitra was at the TED conference in Vancouver, B.C. Thursday updating the world on his School in the Cloud effort, an initiative powered by Microsoft technology.

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    This week on the Microsoft Facebook page, we asked fans to share what they’ve created with Microsoft technology. Use #ICreatedthis to tell us your story for the chance to be featured. 

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    Get out there this weekend and let the lion roar one last time. We’ll see all you lambs back here next week.

    Posted by Aimee Riordan
    Microsoft News Center Staff

    ..

    Details: http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_blog/archive/2014/03/21/weekend-reading-march-20th-edition-the-madness-of-march-sql-server-2014-and-a-school-in-the-cloud.aspx

  • Microsoft is proud to bring We Day back to Seattle!

    The following post is from Lisa Brummel, Executive Vice President, Human Resources, Microsoft.


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    Microsoft YouthSpark reporters Gabrielle, Delaney and Keilon joined We Day co-host Munro Chambers from the hit TeenNick TV show “Degrassi” at We Day Seattle 2013.

    We at Microsoft are inspired by today’s youth. We are amazed by their compassion and determination to make a difference in the lives of others.

    There is nothing quite like seeing the brilliant spark of an idea in the eyes of a young person – apart, perhaps, from seeing it in the eyes of 15,000 young people! I will have that privilege today at KeyArena at the second annual Seattle We Day event as part of Microsoft’s three-year commitment to sponsor Free The Children’s signature event and the We Act in-school program in Washington state and California.

    We were thrilled to see the thousands of teenage change-agents at We Day Seattle last year and are proud to support this global nonprofit dedicated to inspiring young people to help others. These are star-studded arena events full of motivational speakers, leaders and celebrities. Students today will hear from Edward Norton, Joe Jonas, Cody Simpson and the Seattle Seahawks, to name just a few. San Francisco’s line-up later in the month will include Seth Rogen, Orlando Bloom, Selena Gomez, Martin Sheen and Magic Johnson.

    But the real stars, of course, are the amazing high school students who are being rewarded for their We Act community service commitments. My goal in speaking to these young people is to encourage them to keep following their passions and to leverage the power of technology to make the world a better place. At Microsoft, we know that it can happen, because we’ve seen it time and time again. My words today will be simple: each person in the arena can be whoever they want to be and go wherever they want to go, and technology can help them get there faster.

    YouthSpark Reporter Natasha Babayan is a great example of this. She’s a Seattle high school senior and an active volunteer at her local Boys & Girls Club. Natasha returned to her parents’ hometown in Armenia a few years ago and was stunned by its poverty-hampered struggle to rebuild after an earthquake that had struck decades before. She was deeply affected by the hardships she saw people enduring – homes made of steel scraps, leaking ceilings, long walks to fetch water from a well. When Free The Children brought its community service curriculum, We Act, to her high school last year, Natasha’s empathy turned to action. She raised money to build schools in the developing world. Natasha is also a high school intern here at Microsoft passionate about technology’s ability to shape the world – one of about 2,000 student interns we hire each year.

    I get fired up by stories like Natasha’s!

    And by a group of young men studying medicine in Uganda who used technology innovation to solve a major medical issue in rural areas – the lack of access to prenatal care. They used mobile technology to create a portable and affordable replacement for costly, inaccessible ultrasounds. They’ll be on stage at We Day California to share their story – a real life example of applying technology to solve a problem affecting society.

    The millennial generation has demonstrated a fantastic ability to fuse empathy with action. So many young people wake up in the morning and ask “What can I do to help?” Technology often helps turn that impulse into action. It provides youth with access to global viewpoints, connections and experiences. It enables them to create solutions to address social issues, rally each other to affect change and crowd-source funding to support causes around the world. The power of young people to create a better world is one of the reasons why we launched Microsoft YouthSpark, our global, companywide initiative that aims to create opportunities for 300 million youth around the world by 2015 through partnerships with governments, nonprofit organizations and businesses. In the first year of YouthSpark, Microsoft created new education, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for 103 million young people around the world. The YouthSpark Hub is a place where young people can go to get free resources and programs to help them imagine and create a better future.

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    The new YouthSpark Hub, a place where young people can go to get free resources and programs to help them imagine and create a better future.

    You can follow #youthspark and @MSFTCitizenship for live tweets and behind-the-scenes content from our YouthSpark Reporters, who will capture the unforgettable moments and positive energy of We Day. You can also follow them through this Twitter list. Students will have the chance to tweet their favorite We Day moment tagged with #youthspark for a chance to win an Xbox One.

    To experience We Day Seattle, you can watch the live stream starting at 9:15 a.m. PT. I predict that you will be inspired by this community of incredible young people, each on a journey to make a difference. And please do join us for We Day California on March 26!

    ..

    Details: http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_blog/archive/2014/03/21/microsoft-is-proud-to-bring-we-day-back-to-seattle.aspx

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