Tag Archives: Games

For Sale – Acer Aspire M3-581TG Timeline Ultrabook

Hi. It’s a perfectly capable machine, and is decent enough to play games. It’s obviously tech from a few years back, so it depends what you’re comparing it with I suppose. It has a dedicated Nvidia mobile graphics, so would be better for games than one that just uses a non dedicated GPU. There are reviews from back when it was released that would give you more details.

Screen resolution is also subjective, this resolution was more standard back then, and some people prefer it because it makes things easier to read and in general icons/windows etc. are more a normal size, as opposed to a 1080p/1440p resolution on a small 15″ where everything becomes very small. There is no bluriness, as it’s the screen’s native resolution.

Join Xbox Academy at the Flagship Microsoft Store to Design and Create Your First Video Game

When you play video games enough to consider making one yourself, hands-on is the best way to learn.

At Microsoft, we’re about inspiring creators, and to empower the next new wave of gaming creativity,  Microsoft Store is excited to announce Xbox Academy is back – this time class is in session at New York and Sydney flagship stores! Xbox Academy is a series of FREE, hands-on game development classes that aims to foster creativity and STEM education outside of the classroom.

In partnership with the Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE) – an award-winning educator for the game development, 3D animation and visual effects industries – flagship Microsoft Store is looking to prepare the next generation of developers and provide hands-on mentoring for how to design and code games on Xbox One and PC. You will be able to save the games you create at the flagship Microsoft Stores onto a complimentary USB flash drive, then continue to work on them in between classes and after the session has concluded.

The program will feature three unique courses, each covering a different aspect of the game development process to inspire new ways to build, create, play and transform ideas. Class will be in session at the flagship Microsoft Stores in New York and Sydney, where students aged 14 and over can take part in a series of creative workshops that are officially accredited by AIE. This means learnings carry over into full-time courses if students want to further pursue game design as a potential career path.

When and How to Join

Flagship Microsoft Store in New York: Sunday, Aug. 20 to Sunday, Sept. 3; visit here to register.

Flagship Microsoft Store in Sydney: Monday, Sept. 25 to Sunday, Oct. 1; visit here to register.

Game Development

The Game Development course covers how to make a game and run it on your own Xbox One. You will learn to design games that can run on PC and Xbox One. In addition to developing a game yourself, you can use Visual Studio to deploy it to an Xbox One and play it.

Game Programming

The Game Programming course teaches you how to build an adventure game and how to use the cross-platform game engine, Unity, which is behind great Xbox One games like Ori, Blind Forest, and lets you introduce objects and properties into your game through its graphical interface.

Game Design

The Game Design course focuses on teaching you how to conceptualize designs for a game and pitch their idea for the next brilliant independent breakout. Participants will be using Adobe Photoshop to draw directly onto Surface Pro 4, and will get feedback on their ideas from experienced game designers.

Since every Xbox One can easily be turned into a development kit, you can also develop the skills you learn during Xbox Academy at home by tinkering around the free Dev Mode Activation app on your retail Xbox One console. Additionally, take advantage of the Xbox Live Creators Program to directly publish your games to Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs with a simplified certification process and no concept approval required – get started with a Dev Center account here for as little as $20.

If you’re the creative mind behind the next Halo, Forza or Cuphead – or if you’re just looking to have some fun – we’d love for you to join us.

We’re excited to play what you create at the Xbox Academy at Microsoft Store!

AdDuplex – your one stop shop for Windows app and game marketing and monetization

From the early days of the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace to the modern days of Windows Store, AdDuplex was and is committed to providing top-notch advertising solutions for app and game developers, publishers and advertisers.

Premier cross-promotion network

Back in 2011, AdDuplex launched the first cross-promotion network for Windows Phone 7 apps and empowered thousands of independent developers to advertise their apps for free by helping fellow app and game creators. Apps that got initial attention in the early days of the ecosystem received an overall boost and enjoyed the early exposure for years to come. AdDuplex helped such apps by utilizing their ad space before they had reached a level of popularity that made monetization efforts worthwhile.

AdDuplex cross-promotion network works as an enabler of advertising exchange between participating apps and games. Developers place a line of code into their apps and start promoting other apps on the network. Those other apps return the favor. The exchange ratio is 10:8, meaning that for every 10 ad impressions your app shows, you are advertised eight times in other apps. The remaining two impressions are used by AdDuplex to help commercial advertisers reach their potential users and support future development of the platform.

Since 2011, more than 10,000 apps joined AdDuplex and use it to accelerate and amend their growth efforts.

User acquisition on Windows

Free cross-promotion is great, but it limits the velocity of your growth to a pretty linear scale. What if you want to grow faster and have a budget for that? AdDuplex provides an opportunity for app and game publishers to reach more users faster via paid advertising campaigns.

Publishers from all over the world use AdDuplex to both jumpstart their new apps and games, and acquire new users for their other apps and games.

Windows 10 era

The day after the initial public Windows 10 launch, AdDuplex was ready with an SDK for UWP apps. It lets developers use the same SDK and even the same ad units across desktop and mobile, and is now ready for your apps on Xbox One.

App developers and advertisers can target various versions of Windows Phone and Windows across all main device families and reach exactly the users they are looking for through either banner or full-screen ads.

Make money with your Windows apps and AdDuplex

The most recent development was a launch of ad monetization part of AdDuplex. While still in invite-only mode, every app and game developer is welcome to apply for and participate in a revenue-sharing scheme in which developers get 70 percent of the money that advertisers pay AdDuplex. And even when there are no paid campaigns to show, your ad space is not wasted – AdDuplex cross-promotion network kicks in and generates free advertising for your app or game.

Getting started with AdDuplex

Whether you are an independent app developer or an advertiser in search of scale, benefitting from AdDuplex services is really easy. Here are the basics you’ll need to get started (plus some nice extras):

Recap: The Future of Gaming on UWP – GDC Europe Twitter Chat

This year’s Game Developers Conference Europe (GDC Europe) proved that there’s a lot to be excited about if you’re a Windows game developer.

Play Anywhere, Xbox’s Project Scorpio, ID@Xbox – those are just a few of the ways Windows and the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) are making it even easier to build an amazing game with the most advanced features and, most importantly, get people playing.

Alex Teodorescu-Badia, Senior Product Manager for Gaming, Windows Developer Platform, hosted a session about the future of UWP gaming at the event. For those who couldn’t attend in-person, Alex answered questions in a Twitter chat after the session ended.

There, he provided a peek into Microsoft’s plans and roadmap for building the best place for indie game developers on Windows devices including OS-level updates coming this year in Windows, platform-agnostic development approaches, partner tools and engines, and tips on how to maximize your game’s revenue.

Keep reading to see highlights from our #GDCE16 Twitter chat, from virtual reality support in Xbox’s Project Scorpio to the best guides for beginner game developers.

As always, tweet us if you have any more questions about game development or becoming a UWP dev!

Codeless game engine Buildbox adds Universal Windows Platform (UWP) support

Buildbox—which allows users to create games without needing to code or program—has been used to create a number of Top 100 games. Developers like David Riechelt who created the hit game Color Switch with Buildbox, have been using the software to build chart topping games across multiple platforms.

The latest version of the software, Buildbox 2.1.0, now includes official Universal Windows Platform (UWP) support for Windows 10. Users may now quickly export to Windows 10 Mobile devices, the Windows 10 Store, and the Xbox One, giving users access to an impressive 17 platforms in total, including iOS, Android, Steam, Amazon, Mac App Store, Windows, Xbox, and more.

How Does It Work?

The software allows users to quickly build out levels for rapid game development and prototyping. To add a new character, enemy, object, platform, decoration, power-up, effect, or background into their games, users need only drag and drop the image into the level editor. Users can also quickly edit their properties if needed and test out the game throughout the entire process.

Additionally, the new particle effect creator gives developers the ability to create and edit their own visual effects, such as fire, smoke, and explosions. To further customize a game’s environment, users can mix and match components, add portals, and use a keyframe animator to animate menus and create in-game cut scenes—all within the editor.

Creating a Game with Buildbox 2.1.0

To create a basic game, click the “Create New” button on the welcome screen.

1_Buildbox

This is called Creator. Choose your basic options and Buildbox will create the skeleton of your game.

2_Buildbox

This is the Menu Editor. You can double-click any of these nodes to edit that section of your game.

3_Buildbox

Edit the main menu and import your own graphics. Here you can also create new user interface functions, menu animations, and more.

4_Buildbox

Double-click the blue nodes on the menu editor to edit worlds. You can also change gameplay settings, adjust character settings, and build your levels.

 5_Buildbox

$500 Promotion from Microsoft, Vungle, and Buildbox

Microsoft, Vungle, and Buildbox have joined forces to help Buildbox developers move over to the Windows 10 Store. Developers who release a game and meet the minimum criteria will receive a $500 bonus for their Windows 10 Desktop games. Learn more about the Windows 10 promotion and Buildbox itself at Buildbox.com.

Microsoft grants help kids learn computer science, Earth Day is celebrated and influential engineer is honored — Weekend Reading: April 22 edition

From a huge effort to help kids realize their potential to a celebration of our dear old planet, this week brought plenty of interesting and inspiring news around Microsoft. We’ve rounded up some of the highlights in this latest edition of Weekend Reading.

Earlier this week, Microsoft announced grants to 100 nonprofit partners in 55 countries as part of YouthSpark, a global initiative to increase access for young people to learn computer science. In turn, these nonprofit partners — such as Laboratoria, CoderDojo and City Year — will use the power of local schools, businesses and community organizations to empower students to achieve more for themselves, their families and their communities.

The nonprofits will build upon the work that Microsoft already has underway through programs like Hour of Code with Code.org, BBC micro:bit and TEALS.

Every young person should have an opportunity, a spark, to realize a more promising future,” Mary Snapp, corporate vice president and head of Microsoft Philanthropies, wrote in a blog post on Wednesday. “Together with our nonprofit partners, we are excited to take a bold step toward that goal today.”

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Wondering what the next wave of breakthrough technology will be? Harry Shum, executive vice president of Microsoft Technology and Research, calls it an “invisible revolution,” and it’s transforming farming, allowing people from different cultures to communicate, helping people breathe healthier air, preventing disease outbreaks and much more.

“We are on the cusp of creating a world in which technology is increasingly pervasive but is also increasingly invisible,” Shum said.

This week on the Microsoft Facebook page, we joined the invisible revolution to preview the latest, most cutting-edge developments in artificial intelligence, machine learning and cloud computing. The possibilities are endless.

Invisible revolution GIF

Computer industry luminaries honored Dave Cutler, a Microsoft senior technical fellow whose impressive body of work spans five decades, as a Computer History Museum Fellow. The 74-year-old has shaped entire eras. He worked to develop the VMS operating system for Digital Equipment Corporation in the late 1970s, had a central role in the development of Windows NT — the basis for all major versions of Windows since 1993 — and helped develop the Microsoft Azure cloud operating system and the hypervisor for Xbox One that allows the console to be more than just for gaming.

“The Fellow awards recognize people who’ve had a tremendous impact on our lives, on our culture, on the way we work, exchange information and live,” said John Hollar, the museum’s president and CEO. “People like Dave Cutler, who probably influences the computing experiences of more than 2 billion people, yet isn’t known in a way he deserves to be, in proportion to the impact he’s had on the world.”

WR Engineer award

Microsoft Philanthropies sponsored the annual We Day, supporting exciting events Wednesday in Seattle and earlier this month in Los Angeles. Nearly 30,000 attended the shows, which celebrate young people who are making a difference.

In supporting We Day, Microsoft aims to help young people drive the change they would like to see in their neighborhoods, schools and communities. Our photo gallery captures the highlights, famous faces and young people who were involved in this year’s events.

WR_We day

In advance of Earth Day on Friday, Microsoft kicked off this week with inspiration and information about the company’s sustainability programs and initiatives, including ways you can take part in the efforts. The  brand new Environmental Sustainability at Microsoft website details how Microsoft’s company-wide carbon fee have financed significant investments in renewable energy to power its data centers, improved building efficiency and reached more than 6 million people through the purchase of carbon offsets from community projects around the world.

Microsoft, which has been a carbon-neutral company since 2012, is continually finding ways to make its products and their lifecycles more earth-friendly. Learn more about how Microsoft is commemorating Earth Day on the Microsoft Green Blog.

WR_earth day

Microsoft is also constantly working to help students achieve more. Some all-new education features coming in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update are specifically inspired by teachers and focused on students. A “Set Up School PCs” app lets teachers set up a device themselves in mere minutes, and a new “Take a Test” provides simple and secure standardized testing for classrooms or entire schools.

Learning will also get a big boost with Microsoft Classroom and Microsoft Forms, a OneNote Class Notebook that now has Learning Management System (LMS) integration and — perhaps most exciting to students — the dawn of “Minecraft: Education Edition.” Educators will be able to give it a test run in the summer months and provide feedback and suggestions.

In apps this week, the powerful mobile photo-editing app PicsArt is marking Earth Day by offering a series of green- and outdoorsy-themed photo frame and clip art packages. Several are exclusive to Windows customers. The PicsArt app is free in the Windows Store.

Need a little help juggling projects, priorities and other moving parts in your busy life? The Todoist Windows 10 app can help you stay organized, collaborate with colleagues and even empty your inbox by turning important emails into tasks.

Or for a little fun this weekend, go way beyond retro to prehistoric days in “Age of Cavemen.” In this multiplayer strategy game, you’re the village chief in a dangerous world, and you need to keep your people safe. Build an army, create alliances and destroy your opponents in a wild and wooly free-for-all.

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And that’s a wrap for this edition of Weekend Reading. See you here next week for the latest roundup.

Posted by Tracy Ith
Microsoft News Center Staff

The post Microsoft grants help kids learn computer science, Earth Day is celebrated and influential engineer is honored — Weekend Reading: April 22 edition appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

Marmalade makes it easy to create games that run cross-platform

At //build 2016, developers were shown how to create cross-platform games for iOS, Android, and Windows 10 using Visual Studio and the Marmalade Platform, the leading cross-platform solution for game developers.

Developers can write code once and deploy it to many types of devices using Marmalade Core, a cross-platform C++ SDK, leveraging a platform abstraction API that hides much of the complexity of native platforms.

Accessing a device’s accelerometer, for instance, reuses the same code across platforms:



// Start the accelerometer
accelAvailable = s3eAccelerometerStart() == S3E_RESULT_SUCCESS;
 
// Read the accelerometer
if (accelAvailable)
{
   int32 x = s3eAccelerometerGetX();
   int32 y = s3eAccelerometerGetY();
   int32 z = s3eAccelerometerGetZ();
}


Projects can be opened in Visual Studio 2015 using the Marmalade Hub, the go-to tool for organizing and working within Marmalade Core.

Marmalade Core: Project ready to Open in IDE with a click

Marmalade Core: Project ready to Open in IDE with a click

Visual Studio cross-platform technology

By default, Marmalade Core projects produce a Visual Studio solution capable of generating an app binary that can be deployed to several target platforms without recompiling.

The new cross-platform features of Visual Studio 2015 allow native debugging of Marmalade Core apps running on either the Visual Studio Emulator for Android (x86) or an attached Android device (ARM).

Marmalade can easily allow game devs to, for instance, target iOS and Android from a Windows machine using this “single-binary” approach. This type of Visual Studio solution is ideal for generating a binary for distribution or for debugging on the Marmalade Desktop Simulator.

Marmalade Core: Project being debugged as a native Android app in Visual Studio

Marmalade Core: Project being debugged as a native Android app in Visual Studio

For on-device native debugging, Marmalade Core projects can also generate a special Visual Studio solution that allows for debugging on Windows Phone, Windows 10, and now Android. All it takes is a single click in the Marmalade Hub and Visual Studio will open, ready to build and debug your Android app.

Hands-on with Marmalade 2D Kit and Marmalade 3D Kit

As part of showcasing how Marmalade Core and Visual Studio combine to help create great cross-platform games, we also went hands-on at //build with 2D Kit and 3D Kit.

2D Kit offers a set of tools and APIs to make creating 2D content easier than ever before. With a focus on user interfaces, 2D Kit’s editor can dramatically reduce the time and cost of creating a rich, dynamic, and engaging UI experience for your game.

Marmalade 2D Kit: Editor in action

Marmalade 2D Kit: Editor in action

With the help of a dedicated 2D Kit runtime, integrating the content you create in the editor with your existing pipeline and game code in Visual Studio is quick and straightforward. The code outline below illustrates how to go about integrating the runtime with your code.



m_SceneContainer.RegisterTextureLoadCallback(...);
m_SceneContainer.RegisterTextureUnloadCallback(...);
m_SceneContainer.RegisterFontLoadCallback(...);
m_SceneContainer.RegisterFontUnloadCallback(...);
m_SceneContainer.RegisterStringLoadCallback(...);
m_SceneContainer.RegisterStringUnloadCallback(...);
...
m_SceneContainer = new CSceneContainer();
...
m_SceneContainer.LoadScene(...);
...
m_SceneContainer.DrawScene(...);


3D Kit brings together a suite of tools and APIs to simplify the creation of 3D games built using Marmalade Core.

Projects in Marmalade Core can seamlessly import and use resources created in modeling tools with FBX support, such as Maya, 3ds Max, and many more. Previewing your FBX files is easy thanks to Visual Studio’s integrated Model Editor.

As a simple example of how 3D Kit can be used within a Marmalade Core project, here’s how you can load and render a 3D model.



// Load the 3D board model and materials
CIwResGroup* pGroup = IwGetResManager()->LoadGroup("Board.group");
 
// Get a reference to the model resource
CIwModel* board = (CIwModel*)pGroup->GetResNamed("board", IW_GRAPHICS_RESTYPE_MODEL);
 
// Build model’s 3D transform
CIwFMat Transform
Transform.SetRotY(Rotation.y);
Transform.ScaleRot(Scale);
Transform.SetTrans(Position);
IwGxSetModelMatrix(&Transform);
 
// Render the model
board->Render();


There’s lots of useful information on 2D Kit to be found in the Marmalade developer documentation here. To find out all about 3D Kit, take a look the developer documentation here.

At //build, we also offered a look ahead to the future of 3D Kit, including an all-new editor for improved workflow efficiency and a next-generation graphics architecture, leveraging leading industry technology, such as DirectX 12.

Want to know more? Download the Marmalade Platform for free at the Marmalade Developer site.

Posted by Patrick Stanton, Director for Post Sales Monetization, on behalf of Marmalade

Celebrating women around the globe, the power of data and March Madness excitement — Weekend Reading: March 11 edition

Inspiring young women to invent great things, bringing data insights to transform businesses and a look at one developer’s focus on accessibility are just a few of the highlights from this week’s news around Microsoft.

On Monday, Microsoft celebrated International Women’s Day through its #MakeWhatsNext campaign aimed at showing young women they can be among the next generation of inventors. The company announced a new program to help female inventors file for U.S. patents; it also offers free resources for girls to learn to code and meet female role models at DigiGirlz events around the world.

The Microsoft Facebook Channel marked International Women’s Day by honoring women inventors of the past and supporting female innovators, ground-breakers and game-changers yet to come.

WR Women's Day image

CEO Satya Nadella, other top leaders and Microsoft customers shared how data insights are driving business transformation at Thursday’s Data Driven event in New York. Customers who have had the chance to preview SQL Server 2016 are already benefiting from new innovations such as built-in analytics and unique hybrid capabilities — and SQL Server’s real-time in-memory processing capabilities are leading the industry.

Joseph Sirosh, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Data Group, shared more about what SQL Server 2016 can do. “Microsoft is delivering on a vision that no other company can match across data, intelligence and cloud,” he wrote on the Official Microsoft Blog.

Scott Guthrie, executive vice president for Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise Group, announced plans earlier in the week to extend SQL Server to run on Linux.

WR Sql Server image

If you’re one of the many people for whom March means one thing — the excitement of college basketball — then there’s a great new app for you. NCAA March Madness Live is now available on Windows 10.

The all-new universal Windows app, which has all the action of the 67 tournament games, is part of Microsoft’s broader partnership with the NCAA to bring the action of March Madness to people running Windows on any device. Get it to keep on top of all the rivalries, upsets and buzzer-beaters, as well as scores, schedules and more.

WP March Madness image

The Microsoft JobsBlog featured the work of Chris Schlechty, a developer who is helping modernize SharePoint and is his team’s “accessibility driver” for engineering — which means he’s the expert his colleagues turn to for guidance on how to design features that work well for people with various disabilities.

Schlechty, who has muscular dystrophy and uses an onscreen keyboard and other assistive technology, thinks it’s “fascinating and wonderful” that technology can empower people of all abilities to accomplish what they want to do — and that he’s able to help advance something so important as part of his job.

Schelchty image

A while back, the Office team in India discovered something that many small business owners and individuals needed and went to work creating just that: A suite of free, mobile-only Android apps that can help them better manage their businesses and their lives.

Months of research revealed the need for apps for people who rely solely on their phones. “Thinking mobile-only is new ground for a company of our size,” said Arun Rajappa, group product manager.

The apps — Sprightly, Connections and Kaizala — are being released through the Microsoft Garage.

WR Garage image

More app news brings plenty of entertainment for your weekend. For starters, “edjing” may come in handy if you’re hosting a party or otherwise want to look like a music pro. The updated DJ tool gives you controls for pitch, FX, EQ and sync, and the app has been redesigned to bring other key controls together for easier use.

If you’re looking for fun games, “King of Thieves” has introduced a new character, a unique gem and more in an update to help you dodge traps and steal gold from other players. The castle-conquering “Royal Revolt 2” game also has some cool new updates, and “Fire: Ungh’s Questputs your puzzle-solving skills to the test to help a Neanderthal named Ungh navigate all sorts of wild adventures.

Take a virtual trip to Las Vegas with “Slotomania,” which packs more than 100 themed casino slot machines into one app, or test your tapping skills in “Pop the Lock.”

For “Hunger Games” fans, now’s your chance to own the epic finale, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2,” before it’s even out on Blu-ray and DVD. It’s available with bonus content, or you can pick up the entire series, in the Windows Store.

WR Hunger Games

And that wraps up this week’s news around Microsoft. Check back each Friday for the latest edition of Weekend Reading.

Posted by Tracy Ith
Microsoft News Center Staff

Mobile World Congress, Bing’s Guide to the Academy Awards and Xamarin acquisition — Weekend Reading: Feb. 26 edition

Welcome back to another edition of Weekend Reading. Our recent stories include reports from the Mobile World Congress, Bing’s new experience timed to the Academy Awards and the recent acquisition of Xamarin.

This week in Barcelona a wealth of new Windows 10 devices were announced as part of Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest mobile trade show. The offerings span across device types, extending mobility of the Windows 10 experience to small screens, big screens and even devices with no screens at all – with universal apps that likewise span device types. To peruse a collection of the devices, head over to Terry Myerson’s post on the Windows Experience Blog. Also be sure to check out the Sway from Barcelona from Nick Parker, corporate vice president of the Original Equipment Manufacturer Division.

Bing Academy Awards Martian

Once a year, the world turns to Hollywood on its biggest night, the Academy Awards. There’s a new experience that helps people satisfy their cravings for information on Tinseltown’s premier event: Bing’s Guide to the Academy Awards. Searching for anything related will open up a newly designed guide that includes nominees, predictions, a ballot, top moments and fashion in one place. And through the CelebsLike.me experience, which debuted Tuesday as part of the guide, you can pop in a photo and the site will tell you which Oscar-nominated actor, actress or director from the current and previous years you most resemble, along with runners-up curated from a deep pool of celebrity photos. Read the full story on the Microsoft News Center.

Pictured left to right: Nat Friedman, CEO and co-founder of Xamarin; Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of the Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise Group; and Miguel de Icaza, CTO and co-founder of Xamarin.

Pictured left to right: Nat Friedman, CEO and co-founder of Xamarin; Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of the Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise Group; and Miguel de Icaza, CTO and co-founder of Xamarin.

Microsoft signed an agreement to acquire Xamarin, a leading platform provider for mobile app development. Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of the Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise Group, writes that the combination of Xamarin, Visual Studio, Visual Studio Team Services and Azure will provide “a complete mobile app dev solution” for developers to build, test, deliver and instrument mobile apps for every device.

Astronaut Scott Kelly with Microsoft HoloLens on the International Space Station

Astronaut Scott Kelly with Microsoft HoloLens on the International Space Station

Two Microsoft HoloLens devices for NASA’s Sidekick project reached the International Space Station as part of a shuttle resupply mission in December. Earlier this week, astronaut Scott Kelly modeled them from there. Sidekick’s goal is to enable station crews with assistance when and where they need it. Find out more about Sidekick on the Microsoft Devices Blog.

When you’re on your smartphone, you may frequently toggle between apps, especially when you’re trying to share information with someone via mail or text message. Now you can say goodbye to all that switching back and forth thanks to a new Android app released through the Microsoft GarageHub Keyboard, which keeps you in your conversation, bringing in relevant information to help complete common tasks. Another new Garage app, Sprightly, can help small and medium-size businesses that need to organize and share product images quickly with their customers make flyers, catalogs, price lists and e-card reminders – all on their phones.

"Top Gear: Drift Legends"

“Top Gear: Drift Legends”

We also saw new apps and updates, such as the App of the Week “Top Gear: Drift Legends,” City Art Search and “World of Tanks Blitz,” which added its first large-caliber auto-loader – now free for a limited time. The Red Stripe Deals provided its usual weekly sales of six Windows 10 apps and games and fans of “Moby Dick” could now find “In the Heart of the Sea” in the Windows Store’s Movies & TV section.

That’s it for this edition. See you next Friday for another Weekend Reading.

Posted by Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff

Windows 10 coming to 4 million Department of Defense devices, Skype group video calls and new Microsoft Translator features – Weekend Reading: Feb. 19 edition

This week at Microsoft saw some big Windows 10 news, more ways to connect with Skype and powerful new features for Microsoft Translator apps. Pretty busy for a week that began with a holiday.

THIS-iStock_000059969816_Larg1

The U.S. Department of Defense, one of the largest enterprises anywhere, plans to deploy 4 million seats of Windows 10 within a year, an upgrade unprecedented in speed for a customer of that size and complexity, Microsoft announced this week. The move will lower the Pentagon’s IT costs and improve its cybersecurity and IT operating environment. The upgrade covers all combatant commands, services agencies and field activities.

“It is exciting to see adoption of Windows 10 by so many enterprise customers, including those with the highest of security demands, such as the Department of Defense,” wrote Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft corporate vice president of Windows and Devices Marketing.

In other Windows 10 news, the new Hulu app for Windows 10 made its debut, just in time to watch the first episode of Hulu’s new original series “11.22.63.”

Hulu’s new app features an adaptive, responsive layout and works well with Windows 10 features like Cortana and Live Tiles. All of which are perfect for watching James Franco time-travel in Hulu’s show, executively produced by J.J. Abrams and adapted from Stephen King’s novel. You can install Hulu for free from the Windows Store.

Connecting with friends and family got a whole lot easier with new innovations released this week. Skype’s group video calling rolled out on iPhone, iPad and Android phones and tablets in Western Europe and North America, with worldwide availability expected in March.

The calls feature glorious HD quality, crystal-clear audio and optimized layouts for whatever device you’re using – all to help make your personal connections feel natural and, well, more personal.

Microsoft-Translator-Android

Microsoft Translator apps also got new features that help people connect across cultures. A powerful new offline translation engine is now available for Android, coming in handy for when Internet access is unavailable or too expensive. And iPhone users can now take advantage of a new image translation feature for iOS, which can translate text from a camera roll or saved pictures. It uses Microsoft’s state-of-the art Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology.

Stealing_Redstone_Large

If redstone and spooky witches are your thing, you might have rejoiced over the “Minecraft” Overworld update, the year’s first major update for “Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition Beta” and “Minecraft: Pocket Edition.” It began its rollout Thursday, with new redstone components, redstone specialist skins, witches, slime blocks and wearable pumpkins. The fun included a new redstone puzzle map that users can try out for free.

MSBand2015_Female1_Biking_9121_RGB-1024x683

If outdoor fun is more your thing, Microsoft Band got some helpful updates, including the ability to track distance in a Guided Workout when you’re running, walking or biking. The device also now has a Tournament Mode for Golf, for when you want to play with United States Golf Association rules for competitive play. And it got more social, letting you easily share your health and fitness summaries on Facebook and other social modes.

Finally, this week on the Microsoft Facebook channel, we got to know Garrett, an 11-year-old pianist who’s composing music for the modern world. He uses StaffPad to write, edit and compose his masterpieces on his Surface Pro 3, then shares his creations with the world.

Thanks for reading and see you next week!

Vanessa Ho
Microsoft News Center Staff