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Inspiration, encouragement and hands-on learning drive Microsoft’s efforts during Computer Science Education Week — Weekend Reading: December 12th Edition

Jasmine Lawrence

Jasmine Lawrence, who works on the Xbox team, says learning to code is a “a great skill. Even if you end up not doing programming yourself, the mentality of it is about logic, and finding new ways to solve problems.” (Photo credit: Scott Eklund, Red Box Pictures)

In this edition of Weekend Reading, we look at how Microsoft helped inspire and train students worldwide during Computer Science Education Week, and how the company plans to keep supporting them, as well as some great new games and apps available for the holidays, and new Microsoft Azure Government and Dynamics CRM Online for Government offerings for U.S. government cloud customers.

Microsoft employees from Redmond to Riyadh to Rome helped teach young students about coding during this year’s Computer Science Education Week and Hour of Code. An exciting new program, Microsoft Imagine, was unveiled that gives students the tools and knowledge they need to create, code and develop their ideas at any time. Jasmine Lawrence, 23, who works on Microsoft’s Xbox team, said learning to code “made me feel powerful because I was creating something.” “Big Dream,” a documentary following seven young women, ages 18-22, from the U.S., Oman, Costa Rica, Brussels and Africa as they work to break barriers to pursue their passions in science and technology, debuted in Washington, D.C. Microsoft helped underwrite the film. One of the biggest messages of the week: Everybody starts somewhere. “Kids who try coding – even for just one hour – will find a whole new world of possibilities when they see how fun and exciting it can be to not only use technology, but to create it …. to bring their ideas to life through programming a new app or building a new game,” said Brad Smith, Microsoft general counsel and executive vice president, Legal and Corporate Affairs.

Satya Nadella, Computer Science Education Week

During Computer Science Education Week, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella answered questions from students at the Laboratory School of Finance and Technology, Dec. 10, 2014, in the Bronx borough of New York. (Photo by Jason DeCrow/Microsoft)

If you’re searching for apps, games and devices to complete your holiday shopping list (I haven’t started mine, but that’s another story), don’t miss the 12 Days of Deals at the Microsoft Store, with a new deal posted at 8 a.m. ET every day through Dec. 19. You’ll also want to check out “Minecraft: Pocket Edition” for Windows Phone, as well as “Scrabble – The Classic Word Game” and “RISK – The Game of Global Domination” in the Windows Store. The Showtime Anytime app launched in the U.S. for Xbox One this week, and the Twitch on Xbox One app has some new features, including advanced broadcast filtering, for the Xbox One community. If you use and enjoy MSN Apps, now you can take their most popular apps – News, Weather, Sports, Money, Health & Fitness, and Food & Drink – with you anywhere, whether you’re on the Web, Windows, Windows Phone, iPhone, iPad, Android Phone and Tablet, or your Amazon Kindle Fire and Amazon Fire Phone. (MSN Weather is coming to the Apple App Store in the next few months.)

MSN, apps, Android, iOS, Amazon

Family of MSN apps on iOS, Android, Amazon and Windows.

Microsoft Azure Government and Dynamics CRM Online for Government in the U.S. was unveiled during Microsoft’s Government Cloud Summit in Washington, D.C., with the immediate general availability of Microsoft Azure Government, followed in January by Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online for Government. The offerings, together with Office 365 Government, make Microsoft Cloud for Government “the most complete cloud for any government organization aiming to be more productive, agile and efficient in today’s mobile-first and cloud-first world,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

Microsoft Azure Government

Accenture and Microsoft announced the introduction of the Accenture Hybrid Cloud Solution for Microsoft Azure, a powerful hybrid cloud platform designed to bring new capabilities, economics and innovation to the enterprise. The solution delivers new technologies to migrate and manage applications between private and public clouds in a controlled, seamless and automated way – on demand, at speed and from a single console.

Microsoft technology is being used to help heal more smiles. In its 32 years, Operation Smile has treated hundreds of thousands of children around the globe for cleft lips and cleft palates. Now the nonprofit organization is using Microsoft technology to help determine the root cause of the facial deformity and to grow worldwide by digitizing its systems and hosting its data in the cloud. “Technology is a great tool enabling us to do things more efficiently so we can help more children,” says Dr. Ruben Ayala, senior vice president of medical affairs for Operation Smile. “We tried to connect the dots before but it was too difficult. We couldn’t get to where we wanted to be until Microsoft came into the picture.”

Patients in Hanoi are screened using a new electronic medical records system from partner Slainte Healthcare and 2-in-1 devices running Windows 8 donated by ASUS. (Photo by Zute Lightfoot, Operation Smile)

Patients in Hanoi are screened using a new electronic medical records system from partner Slainte Healthcare and 2-in-1 devices running Windows 8 donated by ASUS. (Photo by Zute Lightfoot, Operation Smile)

Several new software tools were introduced to help make your workload, at home or at the office, easier. Insights for Office, powered by Bing, lets you search for information without leaving Word Online. And now there’s a faster way to find the right image for your PowerPoint presentation. PicHit.me, which relies on Microsoft’s machine learning systems in Microsoft Azure, can recommend photos, based on the content in your presentation, from within the presentation. Bing introduced a simpler way to find local information and directions. For teachers and students, OneNote Class Notebook Creator has been enhanced to make it even more powerful, with easy-to-find links in Office 365 and a quicker way to create a notebook within the OneNote Class Notebook Creator app.

Office, Insights for Office

Insights for Office.

This week on our global adventure shining a light on people who #DoMore on the Microsoft Instagram page, we met interior designer, blogger and author Justina Blakeney. Follow us on Instagram to see her story and meet more people like her.

Weekend Reading, Microsoft Instagram

Thanks for joining us for this edition of Weekend Reading. See you next week!

Posted by Suzanne Choney
Microsoft News Center Staff