Tag Archives: Hour of Code

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.”

WR Youthspark image

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.

Young people dive into Hour of Code, Cortana now on iOS and Android, and wacky out-of-office messages – Weekend Reading: Dec. 11 edition

Hour of Code, YouthSpark, education

Students from Knollwood School in Fair Haven, New Jersey, participate in the “Minecraft” Hour of Code tutorial at the Microsoft flagship store on Dec. 7, 2015 in New York City. (Donald Traill/ AP Images for Microsoft)

The moment when “I can do this!” strikes: There were millions of such moments this week around the world during Hour of Code, as young people learned to tap into the power of coding. Cortana came to iOS and Android. And, just in time for the holidays, Microsoft launched the “Center for Out of Office Excellence,” a fun site to help you create your own OOO (out-of-office) memes with a bit of ‘tude. A busy and gratifying week, to be sure:

Microsoft hosted coding sessions with young people in more than 50 countries around the world, and held hundreds of “Minecraft” Hour of Code camps in Microsoft stores in North America. Thousands of Microsoft employees volunteered their time to help teach and inspire young people during the third annual event, which coincides with Computer Science Education Week in the U.S. The “Minecraft”-inspired coding tutorial was created by the game’s designers in collaboration with Code.org engineers. Want to try the “Minecraft” Hour of Code for yourself? “Block” out some time (sorry!) and go for it!

Hour of Code, Minecraft tutorial, YouthSpark, education, youths

Cortana became available on select iPhone, Android and Cyanogen OS-powered devices, broadening its availability as a great companion experience to Windows 10 PCs. Look up info, get helpful suggestions and just plain get more done. Last May, Microsoft announced that Cortana would be the first personal digital assistant to help you “complete tasks across your devices, from PC to phone and vice versa regardless of your device of choice,” says Marcus Ash, Cortana group program manager. This week’s news is “a big step in delivering on that promise – bringing even more ways to save you time and effort anywhere you need it.”

Cortana, iOS, Android

Cortana, ready to serve you, now on select iOS, Android and Cyanogen OS-powered devices.

Planning to be out of the office for the holidays, and need to let others know with an “OOO” email? Microsoft has launched the “Center for Out of Office Excellence,” a “cheery, not-so-serious site to help you create your own OOO (out-of-office) memes,” writes Vanessa Ho. “Upload an image, choose a design type and revel in the joy of OOO.” Learn about the secret history of the Out Of Office message, and the meaning behind one popular acronym for it, OOF, and why it has that mysterious “F” in it.

Outlook, Out of Office emails

Bing unveiled new features to help you follow the debates, issues and candidates for the 2016 elections. When you search on election topics in Bing, you can now see in-depth candidate pages and the Bing Political Index, a look at where each candidate stands on an issue. Powered by the Bing Predicts engine, the index can help you better understand the candidates’ positions on the issues.

Bing, Elections 2016

TuneIn Radio, our App of the Week, is now available for Windows 10 PCs and tablets. With the free app, you can choose from more than 100,000 stations worldwide that deliver music, sports, talk radio and news. You also have access to top podcasts, too.

App of the Week, TuneIn, Windows

The Now Playing screen in the TuneIn Radio app for Windows 10.

Microsoft researchers announced a major advance in technology designed to identify the objects in a photograph or video, showcasing a system whose accuracy meets and sometimes exceeds human-level performance. Microsoft’s new approach to recognizing images also took first place in several major categories of image recognition challenges Thursday, beating out many other competitors from academic, corporate and research institutions in the ImageNet and Microsoft Common Objects in Context challenges. Also this week: Five Microsoft researchers honored as Fellows and Distinguished Scientists by the Association for Computing Machinery.

This week on the Microsoft social channels, we launched a Tumblr page, called Inspired By. It is a collection of stories celebrating the people who go above and beyond, reach their dreams, and inspire us every day. Follow along as we share more inspiring stories.

Tumblr, GIF

That’s all for this edition of Weekend Reading. Relax and restore over these next few days, and we’ll see you back here next Friday!

Posted by Suzanne Choney
Microsoft News Center Staff

Microsoft employees turn out in thousands to teach Hour of Code

Today marks the start of Computer Science Education Week and the Hour of Code, a movement led by Code.org to introduce millions of young people to the creativity of computer science.

Microsoft has been a strong supporter of the Hour of Code from its start three years ago. We’re excited to see how the campaign has grown to mobilize a global community of teachers and volunteers who this year will lead coding tutorials in classrooms and community centers around the world. We’re inspired by each one of them and their dedication based on the belief that access to computer science will open up important new opportunities for youth now and in the future.

Microsoft employees are more engaged than ever in this year’s Hour of Code. Their involvement began with a number of our lead developers who worked alongside Code.org engineers to create a fun, immersive “Minecraft” Hour of Code tutorial. Since its launch just three weeks ago, 2.4 million people have already kicked off their first Hour of Code with “Minecraft.”

This momentum continues this week with thousands of Microsoft employees who are volunteering in a wide variety of ways to bring the Hour of Code to 250,000 young people at Microsoft hosted events in more than 50 countries.

This energy starts at the top with our CEO, Satya Nadella, who will teach coding to fourth grade students in a Seattle public elementary school. It carries forward with many more employees leading thousands of workshops in their communities around the world, either in person at Microsoft stores, Innovation Centers or offices or via Skype in the Classroom. And we’re extending our reach beyond our employees to partner with hundreds of nonprofit organizations, including City Year and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America in the U.S., to deliver coding workshops through a number of after-school programs.

As you can see, we’re excited to help kids create with code, and we’re very proud to partner with Code.org to do so. Please join us!

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

Jasmine Lawrence

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

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

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

Satya Nadella, Computer Science Education Week

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

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

MSN, apps, Android, iOS, Amazon

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

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

Microsoft Azure Government

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

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

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

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

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

Office, Insights for Office

Insights for Office.

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

Weekend Reading, Microsoft Instagram

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

Posted by Suzanne Choney
Microsoft News Center Staff

Everyone Starts Somewhere…..

Every expert was a beginner at one time, and there’s no better time to remember this than right now – during Computer Science Education Week – when Microsoft is playing a lead role in supporting the Hour of Code campaign, spearheaded by Code.org.

Kids who try coding – even for just one hour – will find a whole new world of possibilities when they see how fun and exciting it can be to not only use technology, but to create it …. to bring their ideas to life through programming a new app or building a new game.

That’s why we care so much about increasing access to computer science education for all kids in all parts of the world, and I’m very proud of the Microsoft employees who’ve mobilized Hour of Code events and programs this week in more than 50 countries around the world.

As part of our global YouthSpark initiative, thousands of Microsoft employees are encouraging and inspiring kids to code from Redmond to Riyadh to Rome. They’ve built great educational tools like Touch Develop and Kodu, they’re holding coding workshops at Microsoft Stores, they’re speaking to hundreds of classrooms via Skype to describe what it’s like to work in the tech field – including Minecraft lead developer Jens Bergensten – and they’re going to schools and community centers across the U.S. and around the world to help kids with their first Hour of Code.

Microsoft employees from all fields and geographies are pulling out all the stops to help Code.org reach its goal of getting 100 million kids to try coding this week …. and this includes our CEO, Satya Nadella, who visited The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology in the Bronx today to recognize an amazing group of teenagers who are already on their way to becoming tech innovators. Indeed, Satya said it best, “Computer science can unlock the best opportunities in the world,” and we’re thrilled to help kids get their start today, this week, with just one Hour of Code.