Category Archives: Microsoft News

Microsoft News

Satya Nadella, the full GeekWire Summit interview: Microsoft’s transformation and the future of tech

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaking with GeekWire Editor Todd Bishop at the 2017 GeekWire Summit. (GeekWire Photo / Dan DeLong)

Satya Nadella is most well known for transforming Microsoft as its third, and current, CEO. He’s taken the company in a new and exciting direction, doubling its stock price and heading new initiatives into bleeding-edge technologies.

But he’s also a cricket lover, an outspoken advocate for accessibility in the tech world and a big fan of poetry.

Nadella lifted the veil on his life at Microsoft and what has shaped him during his talk at the 2017 GeekWire Summit and in his new book, “Hit Refresh.” “It’s reflections of a sitting CEO going through that process, that hard process of transformation,” Nadella said about the book. “You’ll never ever reach your destination. How do you keep hitting refresh and being smart about it?”

During his appearance at the GeekWire Summit, Nadella also touched on topics like the future of tech — which he said will be driven by three key technologies — and his personal story, including how Nadella’s son, Zain, has influenced his life and outlook on the world.

Listen to the full conversation in the player above, watch the video below, download the conversation as an MP3, and continue reading for an edited transcript. 

Be sure to subscribe to the GeekWire podcast to hear more interviews and talks from this year’s Summit — find the show in Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play or wherever you get podcasts.

[embedded content]

Todd Bishop: I want to start with something that’s a little bit more in tune with your own personality, and that is your love of cricket. I actually brought something for you. One of the anecdotes that you tell in the book, “Hit Refresh,” is that when you’re on a conference call, you like to hold a Kookaburra cricket ball. So I went literally to the ends of the Earth to find this thing. They’re not easy to find. Tell us about your love of cricket, what it means to you and how it influences your life as a person and a leader.

Nadella was a competitive cricket player growing up on Inda’s Deccan Plateau. He’s more of a fan now, but will still take to the field for some fun. (Microsoft Photo)

Satya Nadella: First of all, thank you so much. The one thing that people have found out because of the book is I love cricket, and so I’ve got a lot of Kookaburra balls now. I really appreciate it. Growing up in India — I would say for South Asians — this very English game has become more than a religion. How it happened, it’s one of those artifacts of history. For me, when I look back, I think it’s true in most team sports.

In fact, the other day, I had the great fortune of going and seeing the Seahawks train, and [Seahawks coach] Pete [Carroll] was explaining how he even sets up the training session. It brought back the memories because some of the coaches I’ve played under and the captains I’ve played under in cricket — I think these team sports grab you and teach you so many lessons. In my case, in the dusty fields of the Deccan Plateau. In fact, that is the place where I played a lot of cricket and then I went back recently, and so I write about the lessons. One of the incidents I recount is a captain I played under. I was a bowler and I was bowling trash that day, so this guy replaces me and takes a wicket — gets us a breakthrough. And then gives the ball back.

That incident has had a lot of influence because, why did he do it? He could have just broken all my confidence, thrown me out of the team, but for some reason, he decided, “You know what? I’m going to give this ball back.” I went on to take more wickets and have a decent season. That ability, that sensibility of what leaders do to bring teams along to do their best work, you can learn from team sport.

Bishop: I know that it also teaches endurance. I believe one of the types of cricket that you like to watch, and perhaps play, is test cricket? Can you explain for this American audience what test cricket is?

Nadella: There’s a huge debate going on in the cricket community, because we now have a version of cricket, which is like baseball. Which I know Americans think is long, but for us, that’s the shortest form of cricket. Whereas, I love the five-day test cricket. It’s like a Russian novel. It’s got plots, subplots and it’s just beautiful. The debate really is: How does that continue in its popularity? Nevertheless, I’m a big fan and I was very clear even with ESPN Cricinfo: If test cricket goes away, they lose one fan at least.

Bishop: You actually got to sit down with ESPN Cricinfo, what was that like? Because I know that was a highlight for you of the tour.

Nadella: It is really fun. I had never been to Lords in London, which is the home of cricket, as they like to call it. I’ve been past it, I’ve watched it on telly a lot of times, but I’d never been in there. So to go to this hallowed ground… it’s one of those other fascinating things that happens, I guess, when people go to places where you’ve read everything about. Cricket has a lot of literature, by the way, around it, and I’ve read everything.

This is one of those places that you walk in after having read about everything for a lifetime and then you see the place, and it was just fun. And then to have an interview … as Frank Shaw, who works with me was telling me, “I don’t know who was more excited, whether the interviewer or I was.” I was really excited about that.

Bishop: Let’s take a look at this picture. Feb. 4, 2014, you were named the third CEO in Microsoft’s history. You’re here with Bill Gates and Steve Balmer, the prior two. What was going through your mind at this point? And what do you wish you could go back and tell that guy in the middle right now about what he was about to face?

Nadella (center) with former Microsoft CEOs Bill Gates (left) and Steve Ballmer (right) on the day he was announced as Microsoft’s third CEO. (Microsoft Photo)

Nadella: I am a consummate insider. I grew up in the company that Bill and Steve built. Everything that I’ve learned, everything about me has been shaped by the company I worked for — which is Microsoft — for now 25 years. And obviously, something that wouldn’t have happened but for one of the greatest partnerships in business history, which is the partnership of Bill and Steve.

I distinctly remember that day and leading up to that day, because it was not really long before that day I even knew that I was going to be CEO. The thing that I was seeking the most, and in particular based on all of the people around me, is asking the existential question and being able to answer it for myself. Which is: Why do we as a company exist? You could say, “What a silly way to start,” but I do believe that. I do believe companies exist for a reason. There needs to be a sense of purpose. If there’s going to be long-term success, you can’t be bound by one brand, one product, one technology wave, it’s got to go beyond that because anything that you started with is not going to last forever.

What is that core sense of purpose that can really help drive? Then of course, what’s the culture that will then help you reinforce that sense of purpose with every changing technology wave? Those were the things that, now I see it even three and a half years later — in fact, this entire book came about not as some kind of, “we reached on any destination,” or anything. It’s reflections of a sitting CEO going through that process, that hard process of transformation, which by the way I posit is a continuous process. You’ll never ever reach your destination. How do you keep hitting refresh and being smart about it? I was pretty naïve even three and a half years ago about all of what I at least now know a bit of. All I know is, I know we need to learn a lot more.

Bishop: Looking at this, it strikes me that Bill and Paul — and then Bill and Steve — had each other. There were two partnerships that resulted in this company, really. You don’t have a singular partner. You have what you call in the book a legion of superheroes, the SLT (senior leadership team) as the Microsoft insiders would call it. How has that changed your leadership of the company, the way the company is run and, ultimately, the culture of Microsoft?

Nadella: In fact, Steve was the one who switched me on to this even. Which is, he had once reflected when he was CEO about how even in his tenure and his and Bill’s tenure — as you rightfully said, it was Paul and Bill and then Bill and Steve that built the company — many management teams came and went but they were constant. They could provide that continuity in their own way. And they realized that when the next CEO is going to be in place, the way that CEO will need to operate is going to be very different. And also the business. Especially when I talking to Paul recently is when it struck me: How different the company is than the company that Paul worked at in terms of its scope, its size, its complexity, its operation.

The thing that Steve was, in fact, trying to even do in his own tenure at Microsoft was to build more of a leadership team. For me, of course, it’s an absolute necessity. There is no way I could operate with the context and the depth — I mean, Steve could do pretty much anybody’s job better than anybody. He had such immense intellectual horsepower. I clearly don’t. The thing that I wanted to make sure is [to] bring the team and also have that ownership. “This is our company.” This is not just for the SLT. I want people inside the company to feel it’s their company so that they can use it as a platform to realize their own mission and their own personal philosophy. That’s what I believe applies to the leadership team, as well.

Bishop: You said earlier that you are the consummate insider, and you’ve said in the past that that gave you the credibility — internally — to make change. You were not an outside person coming in to make change. Now, after three and a half years, the stock price has doubled. I recognize you don’t have direct control over the stock price, but that is some external credibility that you’ve gained through your leadership of this company. What do you plan to do with that external credibility? Could you take even bigger bets now on Microsoft’s future given that kind of rope that you’ve got on Wall Street?

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella holds a Kookaburra cricket ball given to him by GeekWire Editor Todd Bishop. Nadella later signed the ball and donated it to a silent auction for GeekWire and Bank of America’s Geeks Give Back campaign, raising money for STEM education. (GeekWire Photo / Dan DeLong)

Nadella: I think you’re absolutely right. Tech businesses, in particular, are about that constant need to renew themselves by taking big bets. We’ve got this attribute that things all look like failures until they’re not. They’re pretty binary transitions because of these network effects in technology. You’ve got to be able to see things that are changing long before they’re conventional wisdom, take bets and then go after them in a strong way. But at the same time, the market is going to hold you accountable. They want to pass judgment on your judgment. In some sense, it’s rear-view mirror because they’re trying to make sure that you’re able to walk the walk of producing results, and then they will give you permission. You’ve got to get — as I described it, to use a cricketing metaphor — a batting average that is good.

Think about it this way. Here we are 43 years after inception, fighting it out with a whole set of new characters. Not the ones that we competed with 43 years ago, let alone 10 years ago. That, I think, shows that we have that capability — the capability to renew ourselves. We’ll hit some, we’ll miss some, but we’ll keep at it.

I’m very excited about what we’re doing in mixed reality, what we’re doing in AI, what are we going to do even in some really longer-lead things like quantum. By the way, all these efforts didn’t get started three and a half years ago. It’s really Bill who started MSR. It’s Steve how started our cloud push. These are the folks who saw it long before it was conventional wisdom that these are the things that can be successful, and that I think is key. You’re right — as an insider, I’ve been through that journey. But at the same time, I was also very grounded on the things that needed changing.

Bishop: Along those lines, one of the things that struck me about the book — and it’s fun to read a book like this as a reporter who’s been covering the company, because you get the inside information on some of the things you’ve been doing that we’ve been reporting on and you find out what really happens. Apart from the rose petals anecdote, which folks will have to find out about, one of my favorite anecdotes in the book gets directly to this, and that is how you and (Microsoft CFO) Amy Hood decided to re-orient Wall Street. You said, “We’re not going to focus as much on where we are in smartphones. We’re going to set a target: $20 billion in cloud revenue.”

It was an interesting mind exercise that you went through, to try and get Wall Street to look elsewhere. Is that a good approach? Would you give that advice to other CEOs in the audience, to set goals like that and make them externally? Because it’s risky.

Nadella: It’s not about looking elsewhere, but one of the key things that we felt that we needed to make clear — both quite frankly internally and externally— is, what’s the trend that we are really capitalizing on? And how are we winning in that space? That, I think, is going to be very important for the confidence, internally and externally. The reality was most people, even today, view our cloud sometimes narrowly by talking about it as, “Hey, here is your competition with AWS.” That’s one space. But If you look at even our cloud, we have SaaS applications with Office 365. We have business applications with Dynamics 365. We have Azure. we are a believer in distributed infrastructures, so it’s not just Azure. Azure has an edge with Azure Stack.

We wanted to make sure that it is clear, both internally and externally, that we will have a big business here. But most importantly, we will innovate. We’ll serve our customers. So, you’re right, you have to take that risk and it’s our ability to walk that walk, quarter after quarter, that’s really helped Wall Street, in some sense, say, “This is a management team, this is a company, that can, in fact, follow through.” And we’ll never be done. I’ll have another quarterly call in a few weeks and I have to show up with Amy and show our progress. That’s how it is. That’s what’s going to give us permission to keep doing the AI work, the quantum work, the mixed reality work.

But I think that’s what all companies have to do. You’ve got to be able to perform, but you got to also accrue power for the future. One of the major cultural changes we made even in the company was not to fall in love with, essentially, lagging indicators of success, but really fall in love with leading indicators of success. Which is usage, customer satisfaction, come long before revenue and profit. We needed to make sure we are really tracking that, not just what we deliver per quarter.

Bishop: I want to talk about the future of technology, and that portion of the conversation actually starts in an unexpected place, here with your son, Zain. He has cerebral palsy and you write in detail, very candidly, about your early struggles with this. It has totally changed your outlook on the world, on technology, on your life. Walk us through that, if you would.

Nadella: Zain was born when I was 29 years old. His birth, perhaps more than anything else, has shaped a lot of who I am. That was probably one of the harder parts of writing even in the book, to go back and reflect on it in more concrete terms, as to what he has taught me. As a 29-year-old, with both my wife and me — we’re the only children of our parents. So when Zain was about to be born, it was all exciting in the house and we were looking forward to him and the nursery being ready and whether Anu would get back to her work, or how quickly can she get back to her work as an architect. Which she just started. But of course, that night when he was born, everything changed.

He was born, because of in utero asphyxiation, with severe brain damage which has led subsequently to cerebral palsy. Quite frankly, Todd, I struggled with it. I struggled for perhaps multiple years, because the well laid out plans of mine — as a mid-level or even an entry-level engineer at Microsoft — were all out of the window. I needed to recalibrate. I felt, for a long time, “why has this happened to us, and me?”

Nadella and his son, Zain, who has cerebral palsy. Partially because of his personal life, Nadella is an outspoken advocate for accessibility and universal design in tech. (Microsoft Photo)

It’s only by watching my wife who even right after recovering from her C-section was driving Zain up and down the bridges here to get him to therapies and give him the best shot. That’s what, perhaps, really got me out of my stupor and said, “OK, what do I as a father have to do?” Over the years, we’ve been blessed in this community, whether it’s Seattle Children’s Hospital, it’s the physical therapist, the occupational therapist, the speech therapist — the community that we have now around us and the connections, and the role of technology. Zain has gone through many hardships of medical surgeries and what have you. There was even one incident — I remember one day I was sitting, waiting for him to come out of his surgery room, and then all of the equipment around me — a lot of that was Windows. I was saying, “Hey, it’d all better work.”

And it just gave me the feeling and understanding of the responsibility of a platform company, a technology company. Because that’s one of the things that’s very unique about Microsoft, we’re in every power grid. We’re in every hospital. We’re in every critical part of our society and our economy. And we’ve got to take that responsibility very, very seriously.

Bishop: How has it shaped your views on the accessibility of technology and making sure that everyone can access the power of innovation?

Nadella: My personal life, of course, has been a great influence on how I think about the importance of accessibility. But one of the things that I am seeing inside of Microsoft is universal design and accessibility as a real driver of true innovation. I’ll give you a couple of things.

One of the apps that we launched recently, which uses the cutting edge AI in our cloud-run computer vision — it gives anybody with visual impairment the capability to see. In fact, Angela Mills, who is a co-worker of mine whom I had worked with very early on in this part of my Microsoft career, was telling me this story of how she now can go into our cafeteria in Microsoft, order with confidence because she can see the food, read the ingredients, read the menu. She can walk into conference rooms. We have brail readers and what have you, but the issue is she wants to walk into the conference room knowing that that’s the right one, not barge into something that’s not the one that she needs. She can do that now, with confidence. She is able to fully participate. She’s empowered because of AI and will fully participate.

Bishop: This is an app called Seeing AI. It’s for iOS and Android, you can hold it up to the world. It identifies people, it’ll tell you the approximate age of somebody. It’s like a petri dish of AI technologies. It’s really cool.

Nadella: It’s really cool. In fact, we’re going to try and even make it extensible. There is already some extensibility, like it’ll recognize currency. It’s awesome. It gives people more empowerment who need it. Similarly, what we did with Learning Tools. This is again a very passionate group inside of Microsoft who said, we have some amazing technology around reading which now mixed with AI can change the outcomes for kids with dyslexia. Now in Word and OneNote, you have Learning Tools so that kids or anyone with dyslexia can start reading faster, better, comprehend text.

[Former NFL player and ALS advocate] Steve Gleason came to one of our hackathons. Again, a group of passionate people said, “what can we do for an ALS patient who has gaze, eye gaze but all of the other muscles can’t be moved — can they communicate?” We now have in Windows 10 — in fact, in the Fall Creators Update — eye gaze as an input mechanism. I feel one of the things that’s being unlocked is this fundamental recognition that it’s not just about accessibility as AT technology. In fact, we historically even at Microsoft would think of it as, “Oh wow! This is something that you do as assistive technology.”

Bishop: Kind of a niche.

Nadella: As a niche, as something that you do on top of having built the product. But the reality is: The one thing that is true for all of us is, at some point in our life, we all will need some help with some sense of ours. That’s going to be really the universal truth. So we’d better design products so that it can help everybody. That’s what I think we’re trying to invoke and the beauty of it is it’s not some top-down thing, quite frankly. If you look at our hackathons. … We have products teams who are passionate. We have a long distance to cover. What Cortana can mean for accessibility, what mixed reality can mean for accessibility, these are exciting frontiers. I think it’s going to make us a better AI company, a better devices company, a better everything company by focusing in this area.

Nadella speaking about the importance of artificial intelligence, mixed reality and quantum computing. (Microsoft Photo)

Bishop: Let’s talk about the future. You identify three trends in the book — mixed reality, quantum computing and artificial intelligence — that are, in your view, going to drive the future. Paint for us, if you will, a picture of that future. What is the world going to be like if these three things come to fruition for our grandkids or perhaps even our grandkids’ grandkids? What are you thinking about now as you’re laying the foundation for that future?

Nadella: One of the most hazardous things to do is speculate in technology about the future. How they manifest in specific terms, I think, will be very path-dependent. It’ll be dependent on where we start. Here’s how I think about it. Take mixed reality. We’ve been on this journey where we’ve been creating these mirror worlds which is, we’ve been trying to create metaphors that we find in the physical space in a digital world. Desktop being a great example of it.

But for the first time, we now have the ability to take what you see and just superimpose, in your field of view, the digital artifact. In other words, the analog and digital medium can merge. You can have a complete immersive experience, that’s what people call virtual reality; or people can, in fact, see the two together, and that’s what people call augmented reality.

Our view is that that’s a dial that you get to set. We’re in the early stages of the devices, but ultimately our dream is that people will have devices which will be like your glasses that you will wear that you can set dials and all computing experiences will be mediated by this new medium.

Now, in order to do that, you really need AI. One of the things that even in the Hololens today is a chip called HPU, or the holographic processing unit. It’s one of the first neural processing units because what it does it understands, spatially, everything that is happening and then is able to this lock of a digital object into real space. That means it solves the computer vision challenge. I think AI is going to be very much part of even bringing forth these new UI metaphors. In fact, I look at what we’re doing with mixed reality as a gaze-first, gesture-first and voice-first interface. You’re not really trying to do keyboard and mouse or touch, but it’s really all about gaze and speech and computer vision. That’s the real AI capability that we want to build.

In AI, I feel one of the challenges we have — we talked about all of the things around Seeing AI or Learning Tools, but even take Cortana. One of the things that I’m most excited about is AI that helps me with my more scarce commodity, which is time. Every day I send lots of emails, get lots of emails. I make, in fact, commitments in email which I forget. But Cortana saves me every day because it tells me, “Oh, you sent mail to Todd saying you’ll follow-up on Thursday” and Thursday comes and it’ll wake up and tell me, “Hey, have you followed up with Todd?”

AI that helps me focus, get more out of my time, that’s what we’re trying to do with something like Cortana. I think that that’s going to be the real currency of our time. I always say, AI can help you stay distracted by engaging a lot more in things that take away time. The more real purpose we need to solve for is: How does AI give you back more time for the things that matter the most to you?

If you say, “Well, this is amazing. We’re going to have this mixed reality future. We’re going to have all this AI.” What’s the one thing that we need more of? It’s computing. In some sense, in spite of all the progress we have made, what is still not solved for — let’s talk about all the computational problems that are not solved. We can’t yet model that natural enzyme in food production. We can’t model the catalyst that can absorb, say, the carbon in the air or build a superconducting material for lossless power transmission. Those are all computational problems. If you try to solve it using a classical computer, they’ll take all the time from the beginning of time to now. Obviously, we don’t have that time. That’s where I think these advances in quantum computing are going to be super important.

I think of these three things — they’re not all the same, they’re not going to be linearly juxtaposed with each other — but I do believe that these three changes are going to be profound in their impact in our lives and in our work.

Bishop: All three of these areas are highly competitive. Microsoft is far from the only company pursuing them. You got two competitors in particular in Google and Apple that have an advantage in that they have their own large base of first-party smartphone hardware users. How much of a disadvantage is it for Microsoft that you don’t have that on the smartphone now? How will you overcome it?

Nadella: It’s a great question. It’s absolutely right. There are 300 million PC sold and there’s a billion smartphones sold. Therein lies, I guess, the math around the high-volume device. I take inspiration, quite frankly, from our own history and how others approached it. There was a time when the only hub for all things was the PC. Until it was not. Today, of course, the conventional wisdom is, “That’s it. This is the last device that you will ever need and want and have, and if you don’t participate in it this second, there is no way.” Except, the two companies you mentioned were born after — or the rebirth at least of Apple came not because of their PC share going up; it was mostly because of what they did with the iPod and the iPhone later.

So the question really is for us: How do we meet the reality of today and then invent our own future? The way I think of that is: First, let’s make sure our software and applications are used on iOS and Android. We want to be first class — after all, most people don’t remember this, but Office was there on the Mac before Windows was even a platform. This is not new to us. We want to go and make sure that whether it’s LinkedIn, whether it’s Skype, whether it is Office, whether it’s Outlook — are used every day. Or our games, Minecraft. We want to make sure, whether it’s gaming or productivity and communications, we do our best work on iOS and Android.

We also want to look at these changes in form function. What is a mobile device today? How is that doing to be shaped? Whether it’s what we did with Surface — after all, as a category with 2-in-1, nobody that there will be such a category. We invented it, we popularized it to the point that now we have good competition. That means we got to keep at it. What’s the next form function change?

Also, what are these new big changes like mixed reality, which in fact put everything up in the air? If you can start seeing your computing in front of you, you’re probably are not going to keep reaching out to your phone as the hub for everything. I feel we’ve got to do our best work and take some bets. Some we will hit, some we won’t, but we’re very, very committed to both making sure that our cloud services are available as great applications on every mobile endpoint and we invent the next set of devices, the next set of form factors with the next set of natural interfaces.

Bishop: Have you given up on smartphone hardware?

Nadella: We absolutely do not have the share to have a smartphone hardware that’s a real consumer choice. That’s I think the reality of it. There’s a lot of press this week suddenly around this. But the reality is that we cannot compete as a third ecosystem, with no share position, and attract developers. So the thing that we’re doing is to make sure that the software is available so that we can service the enterprise customers who really don’t care about a lot of the things that a broad consumer will care about.

It’s one operating system for us. It’s not like we have a phone operating system that is separate from the Xbox operating system, that’s separate from the Windows operating system. It’s one platform. That’s where we are and what we’re now all-in on is to say, “OK, What are we going to do with Surface? How are we going to push the boundaries of what is a PC, even?” And all-in on mixed reality, all-in on gaming, all-in on all of our applications on IOS and Android. That’s how we’re going to go at it.

Bishop: You just asked a good question: What are you going to do on Surface?

Nadella: I’ll tell you, we do have a lot of exciting things that are happening in Surface.

Bishop: Is there any kind of form factor that you’re most interested in that you have not yet entered?

Nadella: [laughing] I’m definitely not going to talk to you about it on the GeekWire stage before I have the device!

Bishop: Just you and me and a few of our friends here.

Nadella: One of the things that  again, Steve was the one who really taught us this— was: You’ve got to build the capability. If you think about even the last five years or seven years, the capability we now have. Of being able to build devices. It’s not about the device, it’s the software plus the device. It’s not even just the device as a system. … The fact that we now have that capability to do end to end — as I like to call it, from silicon to cloud — is what now we’ve got to use to innovate new categories. Clearly, category creation is going to be a big part of what we have to do.

Bishop: Yesterday, we had two of Amazon’s top executives — Tony Reid, the head of Echo and Alexa, and Jeff Wilke, the CEO of Amazon’s consumer business. You have a front row seat for a very interesting story in technology, even apart from Microsoft right here in the Seattle region. You’ve been partnering with Amazon, between Cortana and Alexa. What are your observations about Amazon and the growth that they’ve seen?

Nadella: Amazon’s a very impressive company. What Jeff and his team have done is something that, I think, I’ve long admired. I think there’s a lot that we can learn. In fact, the good news is between Microsoft and Amazon, we have a lot of cross-pollination of talent. It’s helpful for this region, by the way, which I think was something that Silicon Valley always had.

When I look at what we’re trying to do with Alexa and Echo, in particular, it’s very straightforward: I want to make sure that at any point in time, the value that we can deliver to customers is not artificially held back because the way to reach them is through someone else’s platform. I felt like one thing I’ve learned at Microsoft is that. Most people don’t think of it that way, but that’s the lesson I learned from what we did with Office on the Macintosh to start with. Cortana is going to be the assistant that helps me with my time, my productivity. That’s going to be the unique skill. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t have that capability if I’m a user of Echo and Alexa. That’s the partnership we have. We’re going to see. These are all about user habits. I’m not a believer in that there’s going to be this one agent. I think each agent is going to have different characteristics, and you should be able to scaffold these agents together. Some of them, after a while of habitual use, will even become automatic. That’s what at least both Jeff and I talked about and that’s what we would hope to see.

Bishop: Will we ever see a Microsoft HQ2, another headquarters somewhere else in North America?

Nadella: We are very, very happy where we are. In fact, one of the things we’re also committed to is what I would say is our development that’s happening in many parts of the world, and many parts of the United States. We have a thriving Silicon Valley office, we just broke ground for a new office there. We have a big office in New York now, we have offices in Boston in Cambridge. Obviously in China and in India. I’m at least in no hurry to talk about any HQ2s. I’m happy with where we are in Redmond.

Bishop: The Amazon example is a good one because it’s emblematic of the approach you’ve changed — and you write about this in detail in that one chapter of the book — with those industry partnerships. Frenemies. You’re competing on some fronts and you’re cooperating on others. What’s the most awkward moments you’ve had? Has it been Salesforce when they disputed your LinkedIn acquisition? And how have you navigated those?

Nadella: I think the fundamental approach I always take is: How can we look at things so that they are non-zero-sum? And recognizing where there is overlap and there is going to be zero-sum competitions. … We are lucky, as a company and as a community in tech, to be in tech. It’s shaping every walk of life, every part of our economy. I think it’ll be really, in some sense, shortsighted to view things inside of our own industry as all zero-sum. That’s at least an attitude that I come out with, and that’s what shapes a lot of [our partnerships].

At the same time, we’re going to compete. We compete with Salesforce in business applications head-on. In fact, we are the disruptor in that space. I’m so excited about what we’re doing with Dynamics in Dynamics 365. It completely changes the business model, the technology, and everything. But at the same time, Salesforce and Office 365, for the users of those two clouds, is great integration. This is something we did in that past, as well, whether it was with Oracle or with SAP.

So I want to just bring that maturity. I feel sometimes what is needed is customer obsession, let’s view things through how they view us versus just our own strategery all the time. And then compete.

Bishop: I can’t believe we haven’t talked about the largest acquisition in Microsoft’s history, which closed less than a year ago: LinkedIn. In our pre-event survey, one of the biggest concerns among attendees was privacy. Data is one of the biggest assets that you acquired through LinkedIn. How can you capitalize most on that data while still being respectful of current and future privacy concerns?

Nadella: I think the entire LinkedIn proposition, franchise, as you said, is built around trust. Trust about the data of LinkedIn and the value LinkedIn provides to the users. That’s of the paramount importance. That’s why, even when there were some concerns about what we would do with it, it’s very clear that we will only do things that the community of LinkedIn gives us permission to do and adds value to them. That’s not our data. It’s the data of the 500 million people who use LinkedIn, who are members of LinkedIn. That’s one of the things that I reinforce at Microsoft: We don’t own data. It’s either the user data or it’s the organizational data. We are essentially entrusted to make it secure, make it private, and make sure that we are there in control and we are very transparent about all of it. Those principles is what guides everything that we do, whether it’s in Office365 or whether it’s on LinkedIn.

That’s one of the things that I reinforce at Microsoft: We don’t own data. It’s either the user data or it’s the organizational data. We are essentially entrusted to make it secure, make it private, and make sure that we are there in control and we are very transparent about all of it. Those principles is what guides everything that we do, whether it’s in Office365 or whether it’s on LinkedIn. If there is value in integration, you have to ask for permission and get that permission. I think that’s where we’re going. Things like GDPR are essentially going to legislate that. Therefore, that’s the world we should build for.

Bishop: Should we expect an acceleration of integration between the companies? We’ve started to see a little bit of it, between LinkedIn and Microsoft, in terms of the products.

Nadella: Yeah, in fact, I feel very, very good. One of my top goals was the re-acceleration of LinkedIn. We’ll talk more about this at the next quarterly earnings. On top of that, the product integrations we announced between Office365 and LinkedIn, between Dynamics365 and LinkedIn — these are there today and our customers benefit from it. In fact, it’s one of those places where we’ve executed super well — on a large acquisition, keeping their ethos, their culture, their value proposition, accelerate that core asset and then add these product integrations. Not exclusively. There could be others who can also do these product integrations. That’s been our strategy.

Nadella (left) and GeekWire co-founder Todd Bishop discuss the future of Microsoft during Day 2 of the 2017 GeekWire Summit. (GeekWire Photo / Dan DeLong)

Bishop: Before we close here, I want to talk about a couple of your personal community initiatives. You are on the board of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center — [Fred Hutch director] Dr. Gilliland was here yesterday — and also, of course, of Starbucks. [Starbucks CEO] Kevin Johnson was here yesterday. Share with us what you’re hoping to accomplish through those roles.

Nadella: It’s a real privilege to be associated with these iconic organizations in the community. With Starbucks — in fact, Kevin was at Microsoft. I worked for Kevin when he was at Microsoft. I’ve known him, and I’ve gotten to know [former Starbucks CEO] Howard [Schultz]. I’m very, very excited about what Starbucks is doing. Ultimately, it’s about that experience that they are trying to create in using of digital technology. And to be on the board to learn and to contribute, I think that’s fantastic.

What Gary and team are doing at Fred Hutch is just truly inspiring to me. To have even that goal of solving cancer by the turn of the next decade, it’s audacious goal. It’s one of these places where — again, I had not understood it — which is one of the great limiters to even progress in cancer is: How can you take the research that is happening and make it comprehensible in a way so that new hypotheses can be created by the researchers at Fred Hutch and other places? Technology is going to play a huge role. For me, I’m learning so much. Gary is an amazing leader in terms of the organization. He’s got a great team. It’s fantastic to be associated with both of these organizations.

Bishop: As you look to the future, I know that you’re a big fan of poetry. Is there a line or a phrase of poetry that most summarizes your view of the future, personally, and of Microsoft and of the technology industry?

Nadella: It’s fascinating — as we were getting ready to disclose, at out Ignite Conference a few weeks back, some of our quantum efforts, I had a chance to spend a lot of time with Michael Friedman, who’s a Field’s Medal-winning mathematician, who is part of our quantum effort. He was schooling me on a lot of the quantum technology. Being a mathematician, he asked me this question. He said, “Do you know your square roots?” I said, “What?” I think I did. I was not a great student, but I think I know square roots. He said, “Do you know square roots of imaginary numbers?”

I didn’t know where he was going, but it turns out that the square roots of imaginary numbers have a lot to do with quantum computers. But there was this line of poetry I’ve read a couple of years ago by a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet called Vijay Seshadri. It’s called Imaginary Number. And it goes something like this:

“The soul, like the square root of minus 1, is an impossibility that has its uses.”

And I think it just captures I think a lot — that force that’s within that seeks out the unimaginable, that gets us up to solve the impossible, and so there is poetry behind square roots of imaginary numbers.

Play Madden NFL 18 Free This Weekend on Xbox One

The spectacle of Madden season is in full swing, and the virtual gridiron awaits you this week. Starting Thursday, October 19 at 9:00 p.m. PDT and going through to Sunday, October 22 at 11:59 p.m. PDT, you’ll be able to get hands on with the best-looking Madden NFL ever.

All Xbox players will have a chance to try the offline features of the latest edition of the storied franchise, including Longshot, Madden NFL’s first ever cinematic and playable story mode where your decisions lead forgotten prospect Devin Wade on his pursuit to hear his name called in the NFL Draft.

Madden NFL 18 Screenshot

Xbox Live Gold members can team-up with their friends to play Madden Ultimate Team (MUT) Squads online for 3 vs. 3 match-ups. Or even relive some of the best weekly games from the NFL in Madden 18’s Play Now Live feature. This allows you to use live updates containing the latest rosters, custom commentary, and up-to-date stats from NFL.com.

During the free trial weekend, Madden NFL 18 will also be on sale for 33% off, enabling you to carry over all your progress earned in the trial. So, grab a copy and see if you have what it takes to rule the gridiron!

In addition to the Madden 18 trial, this weekend marks the first head-to-head championship in the Madden Competitive Gaming Series, as four online contenders go head-to-head against four challenger event winners for the right to be crowned the Madden 18 Classic Champion. It’s high stakes with $100,000 prize purse at play. You can tune-in and catch the Madden Classic Live from Burbank this weekend on Mixer starting Friday, October 20 at 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. PT with finals on Saturday, October 21 from 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. PT.

Xbox One X Shadow of War shows profound improvements over PS4 Pro

One version to rule them all?

While we can draw conclusions about PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X from their respective specs sheets, real-life comparisons are somewhat thin on the ground right now. Microsoft’s new console should offer a comprehensive improvements owing to more memory, higher levels of bandwidth and a big compute advantage, but to what extent will it actually matter in the homogenised world of multi-platform development? From an extended look at the Gamescom build of Shadow of War running on Xbox One X, the signs are looking good for the green team’s new hardware, with an immediately obvious, comprehensively improved presentation – possibly the most dramatic boost we’ve seen to date.

Make no mistake though, as we’ve previously discussed, the PS4 Pro version of ‘Wardor’ is no slouch. Its dynamic resolution averages out at around 1620p over the base machine’s full HD, while geometry draw distance and shadow LODs are improved. However, even after upgrading to the latest patch 1.04, the Pro still exhibits many low quality textures that stick out like a sore thumb – especially noticeable on ultra HD displays.

Implementation of the PC version’s 4K texture pack would have done wonders here, but clearly the limited 512MB of extra RAM available to Pro developers isn’t enough to house the top-tier assets. And that’s the most immediately obvious difference between PS4 Pro and Xbox One X versions of the game – what sticks out right away is that texture problems on PS4 Pro are eradicated. Through sheer capacity via Xbox One X’s 12GB of GDDR5 memory, Shadow of War offers a dramatic improvement in quality: for example, ground textures get a clear resolution bump from the soup-like results on Pro, offering a sharper, clearer presentation.

[embedded content]

Shadow of War on Xbox One X given a thorough early analysis. This is an early build, but prospects are looking great when compared to the final PS4 Pro code.

Monolith has also brought over the dual presentation modes from PS4 Pro – and enhanced them. There’s a quality-biased offering that prioritises better visual settings like draw distance, along with a resolution mode that delivers a native 4K image. And to be clear, both options deliver better textures than PS4 Pro regardless of which you choose. On quality mode you get the best assets possible on Xbox One X, while the resolution mode uses a slightly lower quality texture filtering – blurring the ground slightly, despite using the same texture seting. Compared to PS4 Pro’s texture work on its quality mode (which is also a match for its resolution mode), these still both trump it in sheer clarity though – it’s a big upgrade.

Additionally, whether it’s quality or resolution mode, you still get the benefit of improved ambient occlusion over a standard Xbox One. Dividing the two modes, Xbox One X gets a big boost in draw distance if you opt for the quality setting: an overview of a castle during a siege for example, shows more shadow detail and geometry rendered in from range. It prevents the pop-in you might see on other machines, and the world just feels more cohesive as a result.

In comparing PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, it makes sense to use the quality setting on both systems. Subtle as it may be, it’s evident that Microsoft’s machine gets even better draw distance settings overall on mountain-side geometry and small objects, over and above PS4 Pro’s existing enhancements. It’s a small improvement and nothing like the scale of the texture upgrades – but another advantage that shows Xbox One X veering close to PC’s best presets.

On top of the quality and resolution modes shared with Sony’s ‘supercharged’ console, Xbox One X adds another toggle that can be deployed on either preset: dynamic resolution. It’s hard-set on PS4 Pro, but Xbox One X users can disable it if they want to take their chances with a less stable performance level. Assuming that toggle is disabled, what you get in quality mode is a native resolution of 3520×1980. That’s 1980p fixed on Xbox One X – or very close to it – bringing a leap in image quality over the PS4 Pro’s ballpark 2880×1620 output.

Based on the Gamescom build, Xbox One X’s resolution mode bears mention too if you want a superior 4K picture. From what we’ve tested, a native 3840×2160 is achieved from the machine this way, fixed at that number, as long as the dynamic res checkbox is left blank. The machine forces the maximum resolution here, but at the cost of texture filtering and LOD quality we have on the quality mode, it’s maybe not the best way to go. Based on playing through Shadow of War in both quality and resolution mode with dynamic res enabled and disabled, we’d trade the clarity of the game’s 4K output for the additional features of the quality mode.

And yes, we’d enable dynamic resolution too. Quality mode with this checkbox selected can drop the pixel count to 3360×1890 – the lowest point we’ve measured so far. For reference, that’s still higher than PS4 Pro’s lowest measurement of 1512p in quality mode, and sees a 56 per cent improvement in pixel count. Unlike Sony’s machine though, it’s also capable of hitting a true native 4K on Xbox One X in the best case – provided not much is happening on-screen.

It’s an interesting feature, and having quality with dynamic res engaged means you get all the visual bells and whistles, plus a genuine 4K picture on the occasions that it’s possible. Even when it can’t hit native UHD with all bling engaged, it’s close enough most of the time to look good on a 4K screen. Meanwhile, engaging dynamic scaling on Xbox One X’s resolution mode isn’t quite as revolutionary; you get a lower bounds of around 3584×2016 wherever it senses performance is about to take a hit – while the upper bounds stays at 3840×2160. And as expected, all of these numbers super-sample down to a 1080p set if you haven’t made the upgrade to 4K yet – a feature Microsoft says is common to all X titles.

Even though it’s early code, the Xbox One X build we played runs almost flawlessly for regular missions at a straight 30fps, regardless of rendering mode. However, there is one exceptional area in the Gamecom build that causes issues. The Ghasghor siege is a large-scale battle that buckles Xbox One X’s performance to around the low-20s. It’s a mission with a surplus of enemies and effects, and the bottleneck applies whether you’re on quality or resolution mode.

As a stress-test it’s fascinating to see the standard Xbox One’s adaptive v-sync used here, causing occasional screen-tear. Also curious is that the quality mode appears to push Xbox One X harder, compared to the resolution mode – creating a divide of 2-3 frames per second in matching scenes. Interestingly, engaging dynamic resolution makes no difference here, and it may be the case that the sheer number of entities is causing the console to be CPU-bound. Higher detail means more draw calls, adding to the load, perhaps explaining the performance deficit here. Again, it’s worth stressing this is still early code from months past, and things could change come release. For the rest of the package, Shadow of War hands in a solid 30fps, and the siege areas will be worth revisiting in the final code, with Pro factored into the mix too.


Spider-Man 2’s swinging has never been bettered
Here’s why.


Spider-Man 2's swinging has never been bettered

As thing stand, Shadow of War gives us a prime, early example of why Microsoft targeted Xbox One X’s specific specs. The sense is that a higher pixel count alone isn’t enough; more importantly, this console has the extra memory resources to give those pixels more to show off – better textures, and improved LODs, for example. Additional visual options such as the ability to toggle dynamic resolution scaling are also welcome. Those who want their true 4K can have it, while those looking for more consistent performance are also catered for.

It’s the radically improved art that most obviously sets Xbox One X apart from PS4 Pro, but Monolith’s approach to 4K textures likely won’t apply to every game. At the start of the generation, 8GB of GDDR5 seemed almost overkill – a mammoth 16x increase over last-gen. That’s still a hefty chunk of memory to work with and as such, the difference in other titles may not be so pronounced. However, based on the evidence presented by Shadow of War and Rise of the Tomb Raider in particular, it’s possible that Xbox One X’s 12GB provision is a good case of forward-thinking on Microsoft’s part. We’ll report back on final code just as soon as we can.

Changing the world through data science

By Kenji Takeda, Director, Azure for Research

Alan Turing asked the question “can machines think?” in 1950 and it still intrigues us today. At The Alan Turing Institute, the United Kingdom’s national institute for data science in London, more than 150 researchers are pursuing this question by bringing their thinking to fundamental and real-world problems to push the boundaries of data science.

One year ago, The Turing first opened its doors to 37 PhD students, 117 Turing Fellows and visiting researchers, 6 research software engineers and more than 5,000 researchers for its workshops and events. I have been privileged to be one of these visiting fellows, helping the researchers take a cloud-first approach through our contribution of $5 million of Microsoft Azure cloud computing credits to The Turing. To be part of this world-leading center of data science research is exhilarating. Cloud computing is unlocking an impressive level of ambition at The Turing, allowing researchers to think bigger and unleash their creativity.


“We have had an exceptional first year of research at The Turing. Working with Microsoft, our growing community of researchers have been tooled up with skills and access to Azure for cloud computing and as a result they’ve been able to undertake complex data science tasks at speed and with maximum efficiency, as illustrated by some of the stories of Turing research showcased today. We look forward to growing our engagement with the Azure platform to help us to undertake even bigger and more ambitious research over the coming academic year.”
~ Andrew Blake, Research Director, The Alan Turing Institute

Human society is one of the most complex systems on the planet and measuring aspects of it has been extremely difficult until now. Merve Alanyali and Chanuki Seresinhe are graduate students from the University of Warwick who are spending a year at The Turing applying novel computational social science techniques to understand human happiness and frustration. They are using AI and deep neural networks to analyze millions of online photos with Microsoft Azure and their findings are providing deeper insights into the human condition.

[embedded content]

Kenneth Heafield, Turing Fellow from the University of Edinburgh, has been using thousands of Azure GPUs (graphical processing units) to explore and optimize neural machine translation systems for multiple languages in the Conference on Machine Translation. Azure GPUs enabled the group to participate in more languages, producing substantially better results than last year and winning first place in some language pairs. The team is working closely with Intel on using new architectures, including FPGAs (field-programmable gate arrays) like Microsoft’s Project Catapult, to make even bigger gains in machine translation.

Microsoft is delighted to see The Alan Turing Institute setting up a deep research program around ethics, a crucial topic in data science, AI and machine learning. Our own human-centered design principles are that AI technology should be transparent, secure, inclusive and respectful, and also maintain the highest degree of privacy protection. We are pleased that Luciano Floridi is leading the Data Ethics research group at The Turing as his perspectives on areas such as healthcare are helping us to think about how we can ensure that technology is used in the most constructive ways.

The first-year at The Turing has been impressive. We look forward to another exciting year as we work together on projects in data-centric engineering, blockchain, healthcare and secure cloud computing. Along with Microsoft’s data science collaborations at University of California, Berkeley, and through the National Science Foundation Big Data Innovation Hubs, we are perhaps getting closer to answering Alan Turing’s profound question from 67 years ago.

Learn more:

Buffaloes and the Cloud: Students turn to tech to save poor farming families – Asia News Center

Say the word “disaster” and what comes to mind? An earthquake, a drought, a flood, a tsunami, a hurricane? These are big and brutish events. They grab headlines, inspire people to donate, and trigger international relief efforts.

But what about the many micro-disasters that can, at any time, befall poor families across the developing world? For those who live on a perpetual economic knife edge, even a small misfortune or an unexpected turn of events can devastate their hopes and dreams.

Let’s turn to Thimi, a tiny village in the ancient valley of Bhaktapur in Nepal –  a nation that sits in the shadow of the Himalayas and is among the world’s poorest. An overwhelming majority of its 30 million people rely on farming to subsist – often on fragmented, hilly and marginal land where weather and other conditions are subject to extremes. In this rural society, a family typically measures its wealth in the number of animals it keeps.

For years, Rajesh Ghimire and his wife, Sharadha, worked hard to build up a modest herd of 45 cows, goats, and buffaloes. The farm was generating enough income to raise their two children, support four other relatives, and even pay six workers to help out. The Ghimeres had their eyes fixed on better times ahead, and were saving to send their daughter, Ekta, to medical school.

Then, their own micro-disaster struck. A series of heatwaves triggered an outbreak of the disease, anthrax. Almost half of their animals were wiped out and, with that, most of their dreams. The money that had been put away for Ekta’s studies had to be used to save the farm. Seven years later, the family is still trying to claw back what it lost.

TD builds on its reputation for excellent customer service with digital banking services powered by the Microsoft Cloud – Transform

TD Bank Group (TD) is sharply focused on building the bank of the future. A future where digital is one of the core driving forces of its transformation journey; where data provides insights into the bank’s customer beliefs, needs and behaviors; and where technology will be the centerpiece of the bank’s delivery model.

In a short time, the bank has made tremendous progress. While TD continues to make the necessary investments in its digital transformation, it does so with the customer at the center. TD has always delivered spectacular in-person customer experiences – that’s how it became the sixth largest bank in North America.

Phrases like artificial intelligence, big data and cloud services didn’t exist in the industry several years ago, but now they’re part of everyday discussions across TD. The bank’s digital and data-driven transformation allows more meaningful and personal engagements with customers, fuels application development, and informs branch and store service delivery by gathering insights to better serve customers the way they want to be served, with precision and close attention to their specific needs.

[embedded content]

TD generates close to 100 million digital records daily, and has more than 12 million digitally active customers. With the Microsoft Cloud to help harness that data, TD can deliver on their promise of legendary service at every touchpoint.

“After all, we’re talking about people’s money,” says Imran Khan, vice president of Digital Customer Experience at TD. “No one gets up in the morning and says, ‘I want a mortgage or a new credit card.’ They say, ‘I want to own a home, invest in my children’s education, start a business, take a holiday with my family, plan for a happy and secure retirement.”

TD knew early on that to innovate quickly it required a flexible platform that harnessed customer data and delivered actionable insights. With Microsoft Azure and data platform services to help provide the power and intelligent capabilities TD was in search of, the financial institution continues to live up to its rich reputation.

Microsoft and Huawei deliver Full Neural On-device Translations

Microsoft is delivering the world’s first fully neural on device translations in the Microsoft Translator app for Android, customized for the Huawei Mate 10 series. Microsoft achieved this breakthrough by partnering with Huawei to customize Microsoft’s new neural technology for Huawei’s new NPU (Neural Processing Unit) hardware. This results in dramatically better and faster offline translations as compared to existing offline packs.

The Microsoft Translator app with these capabilities comes pre-installed on Huawei Mate 10 devices allowing every Mate 10 user to have native access to online quality level translations even when they are not connected to the Internet.

Until now, due to the computational requirements of neural machine translation, it was not possible to do full Neural Machine Translation (NMT) on-device. Huawei’s Mate 10 is the first phone featuring a dedicated Neural Processing Unit (NPU) for accelerating AI computing tasks. By combining Microsoft latest advancement in NMT on-device technology, and Huawei Mate 10 NPU, both speed and quality of offline translations are dramatically boosted. This offers users a unique offline language experience not found on other devices: the power of neural network translation without an internet connection.

What does this mean for users of the Microsoft Translator app on the Huawei Mate 10?

Imagine you are traveling and need to use the Translator app to ask for directions or understand a restaurant menu. With spotty network coverage and high roaming costs, you may not have an internet connection. Now, before you travel, you can download neural offline packs and have state-of-the-art neural translation at your fingertips, wherever you go.

“Before, customers had to choose between the quality of online and the convenience of offline translations. Now, with our NPU and Microsoft Translator software, customers get the best of both.”
Baofeng(Felix) Zhang, VP of CBG software and Head of AI, Huawei

AI-Powered Offline Translations using Neural Networks: The Numbers

Better

Whether it is for its mobile app or its Translator API, part of Microsoft Cognitive Services, Microsoft uses the industry standard BLEU score to measure its translation quality. BLEU rates translation quality by comparing how close machine translations are to human ones.
Using this methodology, internal tests have shown, depending on the language, up to a 23 percent better offline translation quality over competing best-in-class offline packs, and often a difference of less than 1 BLEU point between Microsoft state-of-the art online neural and offline neural translations.

This means that even when you’re not connected to the Internet, offline translation quality using the Translator app on Huawei’s Mate 10 is closer to human translation than offline translations have ever been.

Faster

Quality of translations is not the only benefit of this new technology. Our tests also showed that translation of a full-page text picture was not only more accurate, but also up to three times faster than with the previous versions of Microsoft Translator on other high-end devices.

Smaller

This new technology also saves space: The language packs for Huawei Mate 10 are 50 percent smaller than current Translator packs, leaving more space for your travel memories.

A full-featured app for all your mobile translation needs

The app has all the features Microsoft Translator is known for, including 60+ text translation languages and the Translator live feature that allows up to 100 people to have real-time conversations from their own device, including joining a translated presentation using the Presentation Translator PowerPoint add-in, and more. The full feature list can be found here.

The new Mate 10 exclusive neural translation packs are available for the following languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Thai.

In addition to these purely neural network powered languages, additional language packs are available for the remaining languages.

Read more about the Huawei Mate 10 release here: http://consumer.huawei.com/en/phones/mate10

Skype-a-thon 2017 – Microsoft in Education

Complete Your profile 200 Adding a Sway to your profile 50 Introduction courses – Sway, OneNote, Office Mix, Windows 10 500 Teacher Academy courses 3,000 21st Century Learning Design Learning Path 7,500 Teaching with Technology 2016 Learning Path 7,500 Other various courses and learning paths 500 – 7,500 Participate Skype miles traveled 40/200 miles Earn the Schooled badge 200 Earn the Skype Global Learner badge 500 Earn the Skype Virtual Adventurer badge 500 Earn the Skype Host badge 500 Earn the Virtual Field Trip Host badge 500 Share Content is upvoted – points awareded to content author 10/rating Content is favorited – points awareded to content author 10/rating Social sharing on Facebook 3/Facebook post Social sharing on Facebook – points awarded to content author 10/Facebook post Social sharing on Twitter 3/Tweet post Social sharing on Twitter – points awarded to content author 10/Tweet

Meet the Azure Analysis Services team at PASS Summit 2017

image

Members from the Azure Analysis Services team will be presenting two sessions at this years PASS Summit 2017 in Seattle, WA. Members will also be available in the SQL Clinic to directly answer your Analysis Services questions in a one-on-one setting. Sessions include the following:

Creating Enterprise Grade BI Models with Azure Analysis Services or SQL Server Analysis Services

Speakers: Bret Grinslade and Christian Wade

Level: 400

Microsoft Azure Analysis Services and SQL Server Analysis Services enable you to build comprehensive, enterprise-scale analytic solutions that deliver actionable insights through familiar data visualization tools such as Microsoft Power BI and Microsoft Excel. Analysis Services enables consistent data across reports and users of Power BI. This session will reveal new features for large, enterprise models in the areas of performance, scalability, model management, and monitoring. Learn how to use these new features to deliver tabular models of unprecedented scale with easy data loading and simplified user consumption.

Deliver Enterprise BI on Big Data

Speakers: Bret Grinslade and Josh Caplan

Level: 300

Learn how to deliver analytics at the speed of thought with Azure Analysis Services on top of a petabyte-scale SQL Data Warehouse, Azure Data Lake, or HDInsight implementation. This session will cover best practices for managing, processing, and query accelerating at scale, implementing change management for data governance, and designing for performance and security. These advanced techniques will be demonstrated thorough an actual implementation including architecture, code, data flows, along with tips and tricks.

Learn more about PASS Summit 2017. We hope to see you there.

FedEx delivers on modern workplace vision with cloud computing

FedEx logo.

Today’s post was written by Robert Carter, CIO and executive vice president of information services at FedEx.

Profile picture of Robert Carter, CIO and executive vice president of information services at FedEx.Strategic technology is part of FedEx’s heritage and its key to our continued innovation in the future. In 1978, our founder and CEO Fred Smith said, “The information about the package is as important as the package itself.” This established a culture where technology functions as the central nervous system behind every single business process at the company. It’s behind every one of the 13 million shipments that we process each day. It supports our more than 400,000 team members working in 220 countries and territories as they connect 99 percent of the global GDP through our transportation, e-commerce, and business services.

This heritage of custom-built, innovative, end-to-end systems of record and engagement—including our invention of modern package tracking—enabled the business to expand globally while maintaining our focus on process quality control. However, as FedEx entered the modern computing era with a wake of legacy technologies, we had to re-evaluate the strategic IT that we need to move forward in an internet-enabled world. In 2009, we began a modernization journey that we called Project Renewal. It’s our ongoing vision for cloud computing where we are standardizing on today’s internet protocols—the scalable X86 datacenter platform and the “tap-into” world of software as a service.

Whether related to the logistics business or not, there’s a massive amount of disruptive activity in today’s e-commerce world, with venture capital pouring into both first-mile and last-mile solutions. So, we need to refactor our systems to stay competitive. On the infrastructure side, we have a hybrid compute environment where we burst containerized transaction traffic between our on-premises implementations and the public cloud. With Microsoft, we found a vendor that’s compatible with our approach to multi-cloud and platform services and the protection of our data through intelligent security services. For our same-day service for retailers, we built an API-first, cloud-native application using Microsoft Azure. This competitive, last-mile solution extended our business—with fewer IT resources required.

And when we talk about our renewal journey and software, we’re moving from a legacy of deep vertical applications toward a world where we can tap into and integrate software services to meet our needs and stay connected with customers. This is the essence of “everything as a service,” which dismantles the complexity of constant upgrade cycles, versioning, and patching. Now, instead of installing software across the many thousands of places where we operate, we are taking a different approach. We chose Microsoft 365 so our more than 400,000 team members can take advantage of the cloud in ways that make us more collaborative and creative, driving a new era of innovation.

The diversity of cloud-based business solutions that we can deploy to meet our associates’ needs, no matter where they work, is a huge advantage for FedEx. Now, frontline workers such as our mechanics can take their tablets and access the engineering diagrams they need while they’re seven stories up on a scaffolding, servicing the tail engine on one of our aircraft. We see it as key to our future to provide this modern “tap-into” world, where everything is accessible and where we operate as collaborative virtual teams in highly secure digital environments.

And at FedEx, we’ve always promoted a culture of empowerment because we believe it’s the wellspring of innovation. We got where we are through our heritage of technology innovation, but we cannot afford to rest on that reputation. Since 2009, we’ve been working diligently to stay relevant, re-engineering our legacy software for the cloud so we can engage with next-generation fulfillment systems. Whether you are shipping apparel, or flowers, or car parts from the other side of the world, FedEx will continue to innovate in a cloud-based computing paradigm, so we can make good on our promise to move everything to everywhere—just as we’ve always done.

—Robert Carter