Think of your favorite pieces of technology. These are the things that you use every day for work and play, and pretty much can’t live without.
Chances are, at least one of them is a gadget – your phone, maybe, or your gaming console.
But if you really think about it, chances also are good that many of your most beloved technologies are no longer made of plastic, metal and glass.
Maybe it’s a streaming video service you use to binge watch “Game of Thrones” on or an app that lets you track your steps and calories so you can fit into those jeans you wore back in high school. Maybe it’s a virtual assistant that helps you remember where your meetings are and when you need to take your medicine, or an e-reader that lets you get lost in your favorite book via your phone, tablet or even car speakers.
Perhaps, quietly and without even realizing it, your most beloved technologies have gone from being things you hold to services you rely on, and that exist everywhere and nowhere. Instead of the gadgets themselves, they are tools that you expect to be able to use on any type of gadget: Your phone, your PC, maybe even your TV.
They are part of what Harry Shum, executive vice president in charge of Microsoft’s Technology and Research division, refers to as an “invisible revolution.”
“We are on the cusp of creating a world in which technology is increasingly pervasive but is also increasingly invisible,” Shum said.
Within the technology industry, the cycle of invention is captured in eras, from mainframe and mini, to PC, Internet, mobile and the cloud. Most within the industry move from wave to wave, hoping to catch each successive one at just the right time.
Then there are the wave makers. The giants on whose shoulders the industry stands. Dave Cutler is a wave maker, with a broad set of shoulders.
Spring has officially sprung. Birds are in the trees. Flowers are blooming. We don’t know if it’s the season or what, but Microsoft too is bubbling over with excitement and new stories. Join us for Weekend Reading for an overview of recent happenings.
As Microsoft works to empower everyone on the planet to achieve more, the company is making a statement with new, vibrant workspaces for employees. The totally redone Buildings 16 and 17 on the Redmond campus are office-free and designed with an unparalleled range of working environments. Employees and even executives collaborate in large, shared rooms called “neighborhoods.” They roam high-ceilinged hallways and stop for impromptu meetings in atriums that capture and perpetuate light.
The buildings have all of the tech company staples: free beverages, ping pong and pool tables, the gourmet café and standing desks. But they also have Xbox game rooms, the company’s first-ever No Tech Lounge and a number of other unexpected delights.
You can now customize the background by adding screenshots, accent and calendar colors and themes. You can also connect multiple email accounts in the Mail app and see them all at once through Linked Inboxes. Windows 10’s digital personal assistant also works well with these apps, so you can use your voice to add events to your calendars, set reminders that show up in the Calendar app and start composing emails through Cortana.
Matt Long and Mark Nichols worked together at the Azure Center of Excellence, where they helped customers architect solutions for the Microsoft Cloud. Now they have built a balloon that can go to near-space – and take thousands of people along for the ride, virtually, in a demonstration of the Internet of Things in action.
Known as the Pegasus II mission, a compact probe rose to 100,000 feet above the earth. The team was able to remotely control it, gather a ton of data, release it after two hours and document its journey through videos and photos. Back here on Earth, anyone was able to follow along through their website and mobile app.
Scientists from the Wild Nature Institute are photographing thousands of giraffes to study the reproduction, survival and movements of the population. The institute is using a new image processing service that utilizes machine learning technology deployed on the Microsoft Azure cloud to evaluate the thousands of images.
The Microsoft team trained a software model to use an object detection algorithm to recognize giraffe torsos based on existing annotated giraffe data. The system identified new, difficult-to-predict images and showed its predictions on these images to a human who could quickly verify or correct the results.
Hulu, the App of the Week, is making it easier to cut the cord and walk away from expensive cable TV bills. Not only does the Hulu app offer unlimited streaming, but now the free trial period has grown from a week to 30 days.
The Hulu app delivers shows from a variety of channels and original Hulu series like “The Mindy Project” starring Mindy Kaling as an OB-GYN in New York City, “The Path” with Aaron Paul delving into the mysterious world of a cult-like movement and “11.22.63,” in which a high school teacher played by James Franco travels back in time to a day before the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
This week on the Microsoft Facebook and Instagram channels, we witnessed how electronic artist ATTLAS blends elements of live and studio performance on his Surface. As a member of deadmau5’s mau5hax bu5 tour, together they’re transforming how audiences experience electronic music.
That does it for this Weekend Reading. We hope you enjoyed it, and look forward to seeing you again next week.
Our company mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. In education, it’s to empower every student. Today, we’re proud to share the latest on what’s coming for Back-to-School 2016/2017.
Introducing Microsoft Classroom and Microsoft Forms, OneNote Class Notebook now with Learning Management System (LMS) integration, new experiences for Windows 10 and the dawn of “Minecraft: Education Edition” – Get ready!
First, we are announcing all new education features coming in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, features specifically inspired by teachers and focused on students.
Faster, easier set-up:
Shared devices in the classroom are the norm – in the U.S., nearly 90 percent of schools report using shared devices. We also know that nearly 50 percent of teachers serve as their own tech support in their classroom. Until now, setting these devices up has been complex and getting students productive often takes too long.
With the Windows 10 Anniversary Update we are introducing a ”Set Up School PCs” app that allows teachers to set up a device themselves in a simple three-step process – in minutes. We’ve also made significant performance improvements for affordable devices. We expect the average first login to take 26 seconds, with subsequent logins of 6 seconds when the student uses that machine again.
Testing is going digital — teachers consistently tell us they want a simple way to set up quizzes or standardized tests digitally. The Windows 10 Anniversary Update brings a new ‘Take a Test’ app – simple and more secure standardized testing for the whole classroom or the whole school, where teachers or IT can lock down the testing environment, or enable simple quizzing.
Education-ready Windows Store:
Nearly 60 percent of teachers purchase and load apps themselves. With the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, the Windows Store will enable teachers to access thousands of apps, and schools can purchase and deploy them in bulk.
Free upgrade and affordable devices:
More and more, educators are asking us about affordable devices. We have a great portfolio of affordable, durable and innovative Windows 10 devices starting at $199, designed for the demands of education.
So you can see, the Windows 10 Anniversary Update brings a huge range of education-specific features that teachers and students are going to love. Learn even more about these new updates, and more, over on the Windows blog!
Second, we are announcing some big improvements to Office 365 Education.
Today we are announcing Microsoft Classroom – a new experience in Office 365 Education. Microsoft Classroom is designed to be the one place students and teachers come to manage their day – from Class Notebooks, assignments and grades to conversations, calendars and to announcements!
We’re piloting this with Omaha Public Schools in Nebraska. Let me just share with you what they had to say . . .
“It simplifies our digital classroom management and frees up our teachers so they can spend more time with students and less time managing administrative access to class materials.” – Rob Dickson, Executive Director, Information Management Services of Omaha Public Schools.
Today we are alsoannouncing Microsoft School Data Sync (SDS) – a powerful complement for Microsoft Classroom. SDS connects Microsoft Classroom to a School Information System (SIS), so teacher, student and classes information is automatically populated in Microsoft Classroom and OneNote Class Notebooks. School Data Sync will be included in Office 365 Education. Think of it as a super simple process that quickly provisions a set of classes and rosters from many School Information Systems already used.
Also being announced: Microsoft Forms – a simple way to quickly assess student progress and get feedback with easy-to-create surveys and quizzes. It’s in public preview starting today for Office 365 Education here.
OneNote Class Notebooks are the heart of our education experience and they just keep getting better and better. We have seen incredible momentum – with millions of student notebooks created just this school year – and currently running over 10,000 a day!
To hear one educator describe it: “It’s your whole classroom (lesson plans, materials, assignments and student work) in a digital binder with tools for communication and collaboration!”
We’re alsoannouncing Class Notebook assignment and grading integration is now available with more than 25 Learning Management System partners – including leaders like Canvas, Edmodo, Schoology, Brightspace and Moodle. Learn more here.
We’re really excited about all of these improvements for Office 365 Education coming for the new school year! Learn more about all of the updates to Office happening for education – check out the Office blog here.
Finally, we’ve got some great news about “Minecraft: Education Edition”! June begins an early access program of “Minecraft: Education Edition.” It will be available for any educator to download and try for free on Windows 10 and OS X El Capitan.
This program is a great way for educators and administrators who are interested in “Minecraft: Education Edition” to give it a test run in the summer months and give us more feedback and suggestions.
If you are new to “Minecraft” in the classroom, check out education.minecraft.net for resources to help prepare, including lesson plans and a new “Minecraft” mentors program to connect with amazing teachers already using “Minecraft.”
To learn more about “Minecraft: Education Edition” and the upcoming early access program, check out our blog.
The culture at Microsoft is customer-obsessed and we’ve been hard at work listening to teachers and students. We hope you love what’s coming this summer and we look forward to your continued feedback and hearing about the amazing things happening in your classroom. Let me know what you think on Twitter – @microsoft_edu@tony_prophet #MSFTEDU.
Buildings 16 and 17 are two of the biggest at Microsoft headquarters – sturdy, brick-and-glass tributes to the practical 1980s, when the company was focused more on manifesting Bill Gates’ vision to put a computer on every desk and in every home than on the architectural prowess of its campus.
Inside, however, is a different story. There is light, air and art. There are new, retooled work spaces and vibrant common areas. Once fortresses of winding corridors, fluorescent lighting and private offices, the buildings were recently gutted and radically redesigned not just to be more interesting and modern, but to offer employees an unprecedented range of ways to get things done. In the parlance of the zip code, Buildings 16 and 17 have been totally hacked.
After all, it would be a non-starter for Microsoft to have the goal of empowering everyone on the planet to achieve more without trying to do the same for its own employees.
The buildings sport all the familiar hallmarks of a modern tech company – the plethora of free beverages, the ping pong and pool tables, the gourmet café, the standing desks. But from there, the offerings get more unusual.
For starters, Building 16 and 17 are office-free. Designed with the idea that there is no one best way to get work done, there are an unparalleled range of working environments. Employees and even executives work together in large, shared rooms called “neighborhoods.” They roam high-ceilinged hallways and stop for impromptu meetings in angular atriums designed to capture and perpetuate light. They head into large, glass team rooms to collaborate, or into one of the many focus rooms or cozy alcoves for privacy. They yell and whoop in an Xbox game room, and take their shoes off to quietly recharge in the company’s first-ever No Tech Lounge.
“It’s a new look for the new Microsoft,” said Jochen Liesche, a business manager for the Data Platform group who helped with the redesign. “I think ultimately the physical space really represents the culture here. It’s almost as if the physical space is a proxy for the company’s mission and its culture,” he said.
Weekend Reading returns with stories from the very first Microsoft Envision event, including a look at the supermarket of the future, a strategic partnership with R3 and a collaboration with Ecolab to find solutions to water shortages.
Microsoft’s new flagship event for business leaders, Envision, began Monday in New Orleans with more than 6,000 leaders from 70 countries attending. It featured a keynote from CEO Satya Nadella and a guest appearance from astronaut Captain Scott Kelly. The “red thread” that connected the keynote, the drill-down sessions and conversations on and off the expo floor was digital transformation, writes Chris Capossela, executive vice president and chief marketing officer.
Envision attendees saw how Italy’s biggest grocery cooperative is using futuristic technology to help shoppers return to the sociable days of open-air markets, where there were shopkeepers at every stall, ready to answer any question a customer might have about their wares. Coop Italia’s “supermarket of the future” concept replaces the tall shelves of a typical grocery with an airy layout, including easy-to-reach, tilted displays and informative screens at eye level. Motion sensors detect which product a shopper is pointing or looking at, triggering visual displays of information such as ingredients, potential allergens and the origin of the food. The design uses Kinect sensors, Microsoft Azure and other Microsoft technologies. Read more on the Transform blog.
Also Monday, Peggy Johnson, executive vice president for Business Development at Microsoft, announced a strategic partnership with R3, a consortium of leading banking institutions, to help turn the backbone of bitcoin, blockchain, into a revolutionary way for financial institutions to conduct transactions and track asset ownership securely and transparently.
Envision also shined a light on Ecolab, a $14 billion company that is a leading global provider of water, hygiene and energy technologies and services. It has partnered with Microsoft to use recent and future developments in cloud computing, applying cutting-edge technology to speed up how worldwide industries tackle water scarcity.
The Windows 10 Anniversary Update introduces Windows Ink – a family of end-to-end user experiences, platform advances and hardware capabilities. Windows Ink starts with the Windows Ink Workspace, coming this summer. Within it, Sticky Notes turns your handwriting into a powerful digital tool. You’ll also see a curated list of suggested apps in the Windows Ink Workspace to bring you the latest pen apps from the Windows Store, plus a dedicated link to all pen apps. Microsoft has also been working with third-party app developers to integrate simultaneous pen and touch, an example of which is shown in the video above with Adobe Illustrator. Head over to Building Apps for Windows to find out more about Windows Ink.
The App of the Week, “Quantum Break,” isn’t just a video game, it’s also a live action show featuring Shawn Ashmore as the hero, Jack Joyce; Aidan Gillen as his nemesis Paul Serene; and Dominic Monaghan as Jack’s genius brother William. In the aftermath of a split second of destruction that fractures time, two people have gained extraordinary abilities. One of them travels through time and becomes fixated on controlling this power. The other uses these new abilities to try to correct the timeline. Read more about it on the Windows Experience Blog.
Also check out the newest Red Stripe Deals for sales on six Windows 10 apps and games.
This week on the Microsoft Facebook and Instagram channels, we discovered how Temenos has transformed cloud-based banking by providing millions access to microfinance. With the Microsoft cloud, Temenos can reach clients from any location and empower them with opportunities for business growth and professional development.
That’s it for this edition. See you next Friday for another Weekend Reading!
Posted by Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff
Welcome to the Build 2016 edition of Weekend Reading, highlighting all the news from Microsoft’s annual developer’s conference this week.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella outlined the company’s vision to help developers embrace a new era of conversational intelligence, with additions to the Cortana Intelligence Suite and new cloud services and toolkits to help us understand the world around us and create intelligent, helpful bots.
“As an industry, we are on the cusp of a new frontier that pairs the power of natural human language with advanced machine intelligence,” Nadella said. “At Microsoft, we call this Conversations as a Platform, and it builds on and extends the power of the Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and Windows platforms to empower developers everywhere.”
The Cortana Intelligence Suite – the new name for the Cortana Analytics Suite – can transform lives, with a prime example being Seeing AI, an app in development to help people with visual impairment understand their surroundings.
Additions to the Cortana suite include Microsoft Cognitive Services, a collection of intelligence application programming interfaces (APIs) that allow systems to see, hear, speak, understand and interpret our needs with natural communication. Also new is the Microsoft Bot Framework, which helps developers build intelligent bots that allow users to chat in natural language on many platforms. Both additions are in preview.
Microsoft also announced at Build the Skype Bot Platform, which allows developers to create bots that leverage Skype’s many ways to communicate, including text, voice, video and 3D interactive characters.
The Windows 10 Anniversary Update features Windows Ink, which lets you handwrite on your device and create sticky notes. The update includes a proactive Cortana that can guide you even when your device is locked. And it has new Windows Hello features that extend the security of Windows 10 to multiple devices and Microsoft Edge.
“With Windows 10 now running on over 270 million active devices, we’re celebrating with our fans by delivering the Windows 10 Anniversary Update,” Myerson said. “This significant update will help you interact with your Windows 10 devices as naturally as you interact with the world around you — using your pen, presence and voice.”
New developer capabilities for Windows 10 include full access to Cortana’s intelligence, and new APIs and tools to integrate Windows Ink, Windows Hello and other Windows 10 innovations into apps. And Microsoft HoloLens Development Edition shipped, allowing developers to start building the future of holographic computing. Plus a new Xbox Dev Mode turns any Xbox One into a dev tool, enabling anyone to develop for the living room.
“Today, we made targeting every device and platform a lot easier by making Xamarin available to every Visual Studio developer for free, including the free Visual Studio Community Edition,” Guthrie wrote in his blog post.
“We are also making available a free Xamarin Studio Community Edition for OS X. Developers worldwide can now easily create apps using an end-to-end mobile development solution – joining companies like Slack, Pinterest, Alaska Airlines and more.”
Also on Thursday, Qi Lu, Microsoft executive vice president of the Applications and Services Group, highlighted how developers can use the Office platformto create new business opportunities. Office developers can now build apps and place them into Word, Excel and PowerPoint ribbons. And on the Build stage, Starbucks showed off an Outlook add-in that enables people to send Starbucks e-gifts within Outlook and schedule meetings at Starbucks locations.
For the closing keynote, Steven Guggenheimer, Microsoft corporate vice president of Developer eXperience and chief evangelist, showed how partners are innovating with Azure, Office and Windows. And actor Kevin Hart weighed in with a hilarious video on how everyone wants to be a developer, highlighting Muzik LLC’s software development kit that turns headphones into a platform.
For more wrap-ups of Build, check out the Top 10 ways Build rocked it for developers on Day One and Day Two.
And finally, we heard from Nadella, Myerson, Guthrie and Lu across the Microsoft social communities as they announced the latest Microsoft updates at Build.
On Thursday, Microsoft unveiled more technology and innovations that help every developer easily and simply build intelligent apps and services. You can find out more with our top 10 list of why Day 2 of Build rocked it for developers.
For starters, at No. 10, Skype me, baby: The new Skype for Business App SDK and Skype Web SDK allow companies to integrate Skype calls directly within their Web or device offering.
Imagine a future in which a personal travel assistant looks over your schedule, checks traffic for you, tells you when to leave for an appointment, ferrets out parking spaces and alerts people of your arrival time — all while learning your driving patterns to get more helpful over time.
That assistant will be BMW Connected, whose first version made its debut Thursday at Build 2016, Microsoft’s developer conference in San Francisco.
“Mobility needs are unique and personal and a very important aspect of our everyday life,” says Thom Brenner, BMW Group vice president of Digital Life. “We are really focused on how we can integrate our offerings smoothly and seamlessly into the digital life of our customers.”
Powered by the Open Mobility Cloud, which is based on Microsoft Azure and available for iOS, BMW Connected is part of the automaker’s vision for the “future of mobility,” which includes digital services, automated driving and assistance, and interiors designed for digital seamlessness. BMW built the Open Mobility Cloud, a new flexible, scalable platform, using Microsoft Azure technologies and tools.
Every business and industry is being transformed by the cloud – and as cloud speed, scale and agility continue to increase, so too does what’s possible using cloud services. Imagine a dairy farmer who can improve his cows’ milk production by hooking them up to monitoring sensors. Or a hospital that can auto-monitor hygiene practices to make it a safer place. Or a car that can alert you to traffic and save you hassle on the way to work. All this is happening today, thanks to exponentially increasing amounts of data, and new ways to analyze this data for better business insights and connect it to a growing number of devices.
But helping businesses evolve to the next generation of cloud computing isn’t easy on developers. The pressure to innovate faster falls squarely on their shoulders, tasking them with building applications that can process and analyze data at cloud speed, while targeting any device or platform. Today at Build, our message is simple: We’re here to take the pressure off. With unparalleled scale via 30 worldwide regions, Microsoft Azure is the best environment for developers to easily build intelligent applications – across any device or OS.
Today, we made targeting every device and platform a lot easier by making Xamarin available to every Visual Studio developer for free, including the free Visual Studio Community Edition. We are also making available a free Xamarin Studio Community Edition for OS X. Developers worldwide can now easily create apps using an end-to-end mobile development solution – joining companies like Slack, Pinterest, Alaska Airlines and more. To enable even more choice and flexibility for developers, we announced a commitment to open source Xamarin’s runtime, libraries and command line tools as part of the .NET Foundation. Both the Xamarin SDK and Mono will be available under the MIT License.
Xamarin capabilities and services will also be added to Microsoft DevOps and Enterprise development tools offerings, providing a comprehensive solution that spans every phase of the mobile development cycle.
With the combination of Xamarin and Azure App Service for rich mobile backends, Microsoft is helping developers embrace the next generation of app development – but it’s only one piece of the puzzle. Developers also need to take advantage of the data explosion to build more intelligent, predictive apps, while ensuring those apps stay connected across a growing number of devices. Today, we announced several new innovations to help.
We also announced easier ways for developers to embrace the Internet of Things to connect data and devices for greater innovation. For example, we now have Azure IoT Starter Kits available for purchase. With development boards, actuators, sensors and easy user-friendly tutorials, now anyone with Windows or Linux experience – whether a student, inventor, device maker, hobbyist or developer – can quickly build IoT prototypes inexpensively. Once a prototype is ready for full-scale deployment, these users can leverage all of Azure’s comprehensive IoT offerings already on the market. In addition, we announced the Azure IoT Gateway SDK, along with device management in Azure IoT Hub – further easing the path to IoT by connecting legacy devices and sensors to the Internet without having to replace existing infrastructure, and managing these devices at scale via a standards-based approach. Using Azure IoT technology, customers like Schneider Electric have connected more than 3 million devices this year alone, transforming them from a traditional electric company to a modern, connected, global leader in sustainable energy management.
Connecting devices and data through IoT is critical for developers – but so is ingesting, storing, processing and analyzing that data. To help developers help their customers get insights from data we announced a preview of Power BI Embedded, which allows developers to embed fully interactive reports and visualizations in any customer-facing application, on any device. Customers can choose from a broad range of Power BI data visualizations that come out of the box, or easily build custom visualizations for their unique applications. To help developers scale it all while maximizing choice and flexibility, we also announced today that applications can now communicate with the scalable NoSQL service DocumentDB, using existing Apache License MongoDB APIs and drivers. This extends the reach of DocumentDB, a proven service that enables companies like NextGames, makers of the multi-player Walking Dead video game run on Azure, to handle 75 billion requests per day.
Helping developers embrace new app models in a cloud-first world is a priority, especially with the growing demand to build highly scalable apps that are always-on and agile. In a 24×7 world, businesses cannot afford to have apps down for maintenance. Increasingly, developers are turning to microservices, independent components that work together to deliver an application’s overall functionality, to help address these business requirements.
Today we announced the general availability of Azure Service Fabric, our microservices application platform, to help developers design apps and services with always-on availability and scale. This battle-tested platform has been used for years as the foundation for Microsoft cloud services like Azure SQL Database, Azure Document DB, Cortana and Skype for Business. Features like automated health-based upgrades and rollbacks, support for stateful and stateless microservices, and deep Visual Studio integration make Service Fabric a compelling choice. We also announced previews of Service Fabric for Windows Server, for deploying on-premises and on other clouds, and Service Fabric for Linux and Java APIs – extending scale, availability and agility to developers everywhere.
From intelligent data and machine learning advancements, to IOT innovations and microservices offerings, Microsoft is helping developers build applications for the cloud realities of today, and the cloud evolution of tomorrow. We’re in a unique position to do this, as the only cloud provider that supports every organization and developer – from core infrastructure services, to platform services and tools, to SaaS – with the flexibility to build and run apps in any language across any platform. Today at Build, I am humbled to have the opportunity to share our innovations with developers – and hear firsthand their feedback so we can continually shape, deliver and improve the offerings that will make them more productive and successful. Together with our customers, we’re building the next generation of the cloud to achieve more.