Tag Archives: Microsoft Research

Welcome to the invisible revolution

Think of your favorite pieces of technology. These are the things that you use every day for work and play, and pretty much can’t live without.

Chances are, at least one of them is a gadget – your phone, maybe, or your gaming console.

But if you really think about it, chances also are good that many of your most beloved technologies are no longer made of plastic, metal and glass.

Maybe it’s a streaming video service you use to binge watch “Game of Thrones” on or an app that lets you track your steps and calories so you can fit into those jeans you wore back in high school. Maybe it’s a virtual assistant that helps you remember where your meetings are and when you need to take your medicine, or an e-reader that lets you get lost in your favorite book via your phone, tablet or even car speakers.

Perhaps, quietly and without even realizing it, your most beloved technologies have gone from being things you hold to services you rely on, and that exist everywhere and nowhere. Instead of the gadgets themselves, they are tools that you expect to be able to use on any type of gadget: Your phone, your PC, maybe even your TV.

They are part of what Harry Shum, executive vice president in charge of Microsoft’s Technology and Research division, refers to as an “invisible revolution.”

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

Read the full story.

The post Welcome to the invisible revolution appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

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You’re invited: Participate in Pegasus II, an Internet of Things experiment to the edge of space

If you like to explore far-out places – really far out – you’re invited to participate in Microsoft Research’s experiment of Pegasus II, slated for launch this week to the edge of space, using the Internet of Things (IoT) to achieve its mission.

With the first Pegasus Mission experiment in 2015, the Microsoft Research team was able to show real-time IoT capabilities. The experiment in High Altitude Science featured Pegasus 1, a meteorological balloon that carried a payload packed with sensors, radios and video to an altitude of 100,000 feet.

Pegasus II invites your participation to witness the live launch, view flight video, communicate with the spacecraft during the flight, and receive text messages on your phone from the craft as it reaches milestones on its journey to the edge of space.

To learn more about how you can take part, visit the Microsoft Research Blog.

Suzanne Choney
Microsoft News Center Staff

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Music, a medical breakthrough and employee generosity – Weekend Reading: Feb. 12 edition

WR, StaffPad, Surface, music

Eleven-year-old composer Garrett Weyenberg, right, and StaffPad creator David William Hearn. Photo by David Palmer.

There was a lot to love this week at Microsoft, timely with Valentine’s Day on Sunday. We watched an amazing 11-year-old composer from McKinney, Texas, who now has an easier way to notate his award-winning creations, thanks to an app especially designed for Surface. We learned that Sir Paul McCartney created an exclusive set of love-inspired musical creations for Mojis on Skype. We saw how Kinect is being used to help quantify whether multiple sclerosis patients’ symptoms are stabilizing or getting worse. And we met some of the generous Microsoft employees who raised a record-setting amount of money last year for nonprofits around the globe.

Garrett Weyenberg was 2 when he started coming up with his own songs and compositions. At 10, he created an eight-minute piece called “Sonatina in G Major,” which won a regional composition contest. It was just one work in a vast collection of original music by the boy with bright blue eyes. But Garrett had no easy way to write his musical thoughts, no practical means for saving his music and sharing it with others to play. That all changed when Garrett turned 11, got a Surface Pro 3 for his birthday and started using StaffPad, a notation app designed for Surface that lets users handwrite music and save it for editing, playback and sharing. “He is composing music in his mind daily,” says Garrett’s mother, Stephanie Weyenberg. “StaffPad truly has been the game changer for him.”

Here, there and everywhere with Skype Mojis: Another composer, one we all know and love, Sir Paul McCartney, partnered with Skype to create the music for a new, exclusive set of love-inspired Mojis. Mojis, which are free, are unique to Skype and feature sound as well as video, giving your chats a whole new personality – and now, even more ways to express your love to friends and family around the world.

Kinect is being used to help multiple sclerosis patients. For years, healthcare company Novartis has been trying to find more consistent ways to quantify whether the treatments it is developing for MS are working. In conjunction with Microsoft researchers and use of Kinect, researchers at Novartis say they can get a more consistent reading of how a patient performs on each of the tests, bringing a new level of uniformity that will help doctors better assess the progress of the disease. That, in turn, could speed up the process of getting the right treatments to patients.

Microsoft employees raised a record $125 million last year for nonprofits around the globe, it was announced Wednesday. It was the greatest year-over-year increase ever – and the fifth year in a row that Microsoft employees raised more than $100 million. The participation rate hit an all-time high, at 71 percent, as employees donated more time, talent and money to help address local and global causes they care about most. In addition, Microsoft doubles the impact of every donation employees make to the causes of their choice, matching each gift. It also contributes $25 dollars for every hour employees volunteer their time.

employee giving, 2016

ArtsFund President and CEO Mari Horita stands with David Jones, a Microsoft employee who helped update the nonprofit’s technology, at the Bellevue Arts Museum in Washington. (Photo by Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures)

New Microsoft Garage app, Fetch!, uses artificial intelligence to name that breed. Dog lovers will definitely want to play Fetch! Using your iPhone camera or photo library, the app can identify and classify dogs by breeds and tell you what kind of human personality fits best with specific breeds. And just for fun, the app will even take an informed guess on what kind of dog you or your friends might be. The app demonstrates the potential for Microsoft researchers’ continued advances in artificial intelligence, which have already appeared in other playful ways through Microsoft Project Oxford-powered experiences such as HowOld.net, TwinsOrNot.net, MyMoustache.net and Mimicker Alarm.

Fetch! app, Microsoft Garage, iOS

Not ready for Valentine’s Day? Not to worry. There’s plenty of time to connect with apps and experiences in Windows 10 and Cortana that will help set the mood, along with romantic movies and music from the Windows Store. If you want to create the perfect playlist, Pandora, Microsoft Groove and Shazam can help. You might want to try Music for Lovers, which has 30 songs all queued up for you. You can also head over to the Movies & TV section of the Windows Store for the Love is in the Air collection of titles. Find a great spot to eat with OpenTable, or use Cortana in Microsoft Edge to get restaurant reviews, help you book your table, and even remind you when it’s time to go.

Five new military bases are being added to Microsoft’s career transition program. The Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA) helps service members who are preparing to transition to civilian careers in technology. Hundreds have graduated from the academy, which will be offered at five additional Army installations this year and next. Those installations are: Fort Campbell, Kentucky; Fort Benning, Georgia; Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Fort Carson, Colorado; and Fort Bliss, Texas.

This week on the Microsoft Instagram channel, we caught up with Kyle Schwaneke, a talented young developer on the Xbox team, who also has Asperger’s. Kyle was one of the first employees in Microsoft’s program to hire people with autism, and now he’s thriving as a mentor to the newest group of candidates.

Kyle Schwaneke, autism, engineer, Xbox

Kyle Schwaneke. Photo by Brian Smale.

Yes, there was a lot to love about this week. Let’s keep it goin’! And happy Valentine’s Day to all!

Posted by Suzanne Choney
Microsoft News Center Staff

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How we’re putting the Microsoft Cloud to work for the public good

As Satya Nadella announced today, we’re committed to putting the Microsoft Cloud to work for the public good. That’s why Microsoft Philanthropies, with support from Microsoft Research and Microsoft Business Development, will donate $1 billion in Microsoft cloud services to nonprofits and university researchers over the next three years. Our goal is to support 70,000 nonprofits through this initiative during that time. I wanted to provide some more detail on what we’re doing and the commitments we are making today.

Our rationale for today’s announcement is simple. Cloud computing has emerged as a vital resource for addressing the world’s problems. Cloud services can unlock the secrets held by data in ways that create new insights and lead to breakthroughs, not just for science and technology, but for addressing the full range of economic and social challenges and the delivery of better human services. They can also improve communications and problem-solving and can help organizations work in a more productive and efficient manner.

As Satya makes clear, both the need and the opportunity are real. It is vital that the cloud serve the public good in the broadest sense. While the marketplace is reaching a rapidly growing number of customers around the world, it is not yet benefitting everyone. If we’re going to realize Microsoft’s mission of empowering every person and organization on the planet to achieve more, we need to reach those that the market is not yet reaching. We need to reinvent our corporate philanthropy for the next decade, ensuring that we help empower people and organizations the cloud is not yet serving. This will require extensive efforts on a global basis that reflect varied needs around the world, oftentimes in ways that bring companies, NGOs and governments together in new public-private partnerships.

We believe that each of us in the tech sector has a role to play, and we should each do our part. As we at Microsoft seek to play our part, we’re launching today three concrete initiatives that are designed to ensure that cloud services are easily accessible to nonprofit organizations, faculty researchers in universities and people who today lack affordable broadband access.

Here’s what we are doing:

1. Serving the broad needs of the nonprofit community.

Through our new Microsoft Philanthropies arm of the company, founded last month and headed by Mary Snapp, we will build on our longstanding global software donation programs to create a comprehensive and industry-leading donations program to provide cloud services to nonprofit organizations worldwide. This will ensure that nonprofits have access to the full suite of Microsoft’s cloud services. Specifically, we’ll include:

  • Microsoft Azure, so NGOs can access our data centers around the world to develop and run their applications and make use of our computing and storage power;
  • Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS), so nonprofits can manage all of their devices, applications, and data on a cross-platform basis based on industry-leading security and identity management services;
  • CRM Online, so nonprofits can use our new cloud solution for managing relationships with donors and beneficiaries;
  • The expansion of our Office 365 Nonprofit program, which currently includes the cloud-based versions of Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and will now include Microsoft’s Power BI, so nonprofit groups can make use of our newest business intelligence and data analytics.

The full Microsoft Cloud nonprofit program will begin rolling out this spring. We’ve been providing Office 365 services to nonprofits the past two years, and we will apply to this new and broader effort everything we have learned from this experience. We are setting today the goal of serving 70,000 NGOs through one or more of these offerings by the end of 2017, and then we’ll focus on serving even more nonprofit groups each year. We expect that in 2016 alone we’ll donate to nonprofits through these offerings cloud services with a fair market value of close to $350 million.

2. Expanding access to cloud resources for faculty research in universities.

Through Microsoft Research and Microsoft Philanthropies, we will significantly expand our Microsoft Azure for Research program, which grants free Azure storage and computing resources to help faculty accelerate their research. Harry Shum, our executive vice president for Technology and Research, has been a passionate advocate for the potential of cloud computing to be transformational when in the hands of passionate research teams committed to understanding and addressing big challenges. To date this program has provided free cloud computing resources for over 600 research projects on six continents. We will build on what works and will expand our donations program by 50 percent, with a focus on reaching important new research initiatives around the world.

We know from experience that this program can make a critical difference for researchers in universities, and our increased funding for this effort therefore builds on a successful formula. As a company we have supported and witnessed compelling examples of the breakthroughs that can be achieved when university faculty harness the unprecedented power of the cloud is used to analyze data, unlock insights and predict outcomes. From protecting forests in Brazil to fighting wildfires in Greece, and from developing new medicines in the United Kingdom to modeling flood risks in Texas, dedicated university researchers have used Microsoft Azure to advance their cutting-edge research projects. The expansion of funding for these grants will enable faculty around the world to accomplish even more.

3. Reaching new communities with last-mile connectivity and cloud services.

Finally, we will pursue new initiatives that bring together Microsoft Business Development and Microsoft Philanthropies to combine investments in innovative new technologies for last-mile connectivity access with donated access to our cloud services. Just last month, Peggy Johnson, our Executive Vice President for Business Development, announced in the Philippines part of our new focus on funding new connectivity access for underserved communities, building on such work as our TV White Spaces project to bring low cost connectivity to rural Kenya through the Mawingu project.

We’re enthusiastic about the potential for TV White Spaces to bring broadband connectivity at a low cost to more communities around the world – and to do so in 2016, without waiting for the arrival of the next decade. That’s why we’re going to grow this connectivity initiative by growing our financial investment and combining it with cloud services donations and community training programs that we’ll pursue in partnerships with local governments and nonprofit groups. By combining connectivity with cloud services and training focusing on new public-private partnerships, we are setting a goal of pursuing and supporting at least 20 of these projects in at least 15 countries around the world by the end of 2017.

Taken together we believe these steps will ensure that nonprofit organizations and university researchers around the world obtain the access they need to pursue cutting-edge solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.

Our approach reflects the unmet need we see in communities around the world, the confidence we have in the ability of nonprofits and researchers to solve these challenges, and the ambition we have for Microsoft Philanthropies to drive digital inclusion and empowerment programs around the world.

All this also reflects a cross-company commitment to help respond to the question Satya raised: How can we make sure the cloud truly serves the public good? Today is a step on that journey. We are committed to doing more, and in the coming months we will launch additional programs through Microsoft Philanthropies to address this opportunity. We’re committed to being part of a broad discussion and a comprehensive response, built on partnerships across civil society and around the world.

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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

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Computers that get what we’re saying, new innovations for business and real-time insight for Giving Tuesday – Weekend Reading: Dec. 4 edition

Microsoft news spanned the globe this week and encompassed a variety of technologies that enrich innovation, productivity and generosity. Lots of good stuff. Let’s take a look.

Once the lore of science fiction, technology that understands human speech now includes apps that translate conversation as it happens and a virtual assistant who can give you numbers to call for pizza.

Those breakthroughs and a peek at future voice recognition are the subject of a fascinating read this week. Writer Allison Linn spent time with Microsoft researchers to see how data availability, computing power and machine learning are making computers so smart that they may one day understand what you’re saying as well as any human can.

“When machine learning works at its best, you really don’t see the effort. It’s just so natural. You see the result,” said Harry Shum, executive vice president in charge of Microsoft’s Technology and Research group.

predictions

Microsoft researchers also offered up this week 16 predictions for 2016, ranging in topics from AI to data science to cryptography. For Chris Bishop, managing director of Microsoft Research in Cambridge, the United Kingdom, next year’s key technology breakthrough will be “the emergence of new silicon architectures that are turned to intensive workloads of machine learning.”

For Doug Burger, director of Hardware, Devices and Experiences, Microsoft Research NExT, the big tech advance of 2016 will be “successful and large-scale inclusion of specialized compute acceleration in the cloud.”

Meanwhile in Barcelona, Microsoft hosted Convergence EMEA, the company’s annual Europe-based conference for business and IT leaders. The four-day event unveiled innovations to help businesses transform, including new communications capabilities in Office 365 and Skype for Business.

Microsoft also announced Power BI integration with Cortana and a “new era of intelligent customer engagement” with the worldwide availability of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016.

“As organizations strive to keep up with the pace of change, they are looking to technology to drive digital transformation,” wrote Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Chris Capossela. “Our message this week is simple – Microsoft is here to help.”

GivingTuesday_1201_1600x449-1600x449

Microsoft amped up Giving Tuesday, with a real-time look at the outpouring of generosity during the worldwide movement. The company worked with 92nd Street Y (92Y), the nonprofit cultural and community center that created Giving Tuesday, and Blackbaud, which processed most of the day’s donations, to turn vast amounts of data into a real-time dashboard tracking the day’s momentum.

“Having Microsoft come in gives the day a richness and a depth that we wouldn’t otherwise have,” said Asha Curran, director of 92Y’s Center for Innovation and Social Impact.

The visual dashboard allowed the team to build on insight in real time, instead of waiting to evaluate their efforts after the event, said John Doyle, director of product marketing at Microsoft.

Also this week, the Microsoft HoloLens team announced that it’s partnering with Autodesk Fusion 360 on a solution to change the way industrial designers, mechanical engineers and other product developers work together.

“With HoloLens we can remove many of the barriers that exist today; accelerating product iteration, providing more intuitive cross-team communication and setting new standards in collaboration,” wrote Ben Sugden, studio manager of Microsoft HoloLens.

If you don’t feel like time is always on your side, check out the new FindTime app from the Microsoft Garage. The Outlook add-in helps you schedule meetings faster with people outside your company, so you can be more productive and spend less time doing the tedious job of figuring out when everyone’s available.

“We think scheduling a time can be more collaborative – and with FindTime, it feels almost magical,” said Vivek Garg, a developer for Microsoft’s Team SIX and tech lead who helped create FindTime.

Bing2015Moments

The end of the year is indeed nigh, which means it’s time for a little hindsight. On Wednesday, Bing featured the top searched stories and celebrities of 2015, out of the billions of searches on Bing this year. The perspective gave us a unique look at the moments that shaped us the year, from the U.S. Women’s FIFA World Cup victory to Caitlyn Jenner’s iconic “Vanity Fair” cover.

Finally this week, on the Microsoft Instagram channel, we watched Microsoft employees from around the country spread holiday cheer in New York City. Joined by a local children’s choir, they shared a message of peace and harmony with a neighbor down the street.

Thanks for reading and see you next week!

Vanessa Ho
Microsoft News Center Staff

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Weekend Reading: Microsoft devices news and stories you may have missed

From teaching kids how to code with Minecraft and addressing the important of security to inspiring sci-fi stories and reimagining how people can buy cars – here are our picks for Weekend Reading.

A man plugs a Lumia 950 into a screen using Microsoft Display Dock

Inside Microsoft’s plan to unlock the full power of your phone

TIME magazine explores the origins and development of Continuum. The in-depth piece includes interviews from key program managers and early-concept drawings.

Microsoft Hololens and Volvo Cars explore the future of car buying

In case you missed it, we ran a story earlier this week on the partnership between Hololens and Volvo. The aim: Explore the future of automotive technology and reimagine how people experience car buying.

Satya Nadella photo

Satya Nadella: Enterprise security for our mobile-first, cloud-first world

The Official Microsoft Blog wrote about Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella’s keynote at the Microsoft Government Cloud Forum in Washington, D.C on the importance of security in the technology business and how Microsoft has stepped up its game to confront security threats in a mobile-first, cloud-first world. See the full webcast on demand and highlights here. 

2015 Nov 14 Hour of Code - Minecraft Tutorial Image 3

Microsoft teaching kids to code with Minecraft

Microsoft believes every young person should have the opportunity to learn computer science, giving them the power to create with technology. With Minecraft Hour of Code Tutorial, Microsoft is helping to develop the next generation of digital natives.

Future Visions book cover photo

Future Visions anthology brings together science fiction—and science fact

Our friends at the Microsoft News Center wrote about “Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Inspired by Microsoft,” a free digital eBook written by nine award-winning sci-fi authors. The anthology of short stories explores how scientific developments at Microsoft Research may affect our future. Read “Future Visions” on your Lumia or Surface by going here.

 

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Education Underground Workshop, ‘Future Visions’ and Connect(); – Weekend Reading: Nov. 20 edition

Welcome back to another installment of Weekend Reading! We had a big week on several fronts, such as education, research and innovations for developers.

Microsoft hosted a group of educators, students and industry leaders on Monday through the Education Underground Workshop, which highlighted the company’s commitment to make learning more engaging and accessible, while empowering every student on the planet to achieve more. The event at Microsoft’s Redmond, Washington, campus followed an earlier unveiling of a new “Minecraft” coding tutorial by Microsoft and Code.org. Microsoft also announced a new partnership with edX to create more courses for school leaders and provide greater access to Microsoft’s current resources for principals, superintendents and other school leaders. Read the full story by Vanessa Ho.

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On Tuesday, Microsoft released an anthology inspired by the work Microsoft researchers are doing. “Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Inspired by Microsoft,” is available to anyone as a free download. Check out the story behind the making of the book.

“The idea was to bring authors in to expose them to what some people might think is science fiction. In a way, you could say the world of Microsoft Research turns science fiction into science fact,” says Steve Clayton, chief storyteller at Microsoft. “We didn’t show them a piece of technology and ask them to please write about that. We showed them technology and introduced them to a group of people, and then asked them, what did it spark in your mind as ideas, where did it inspire you to think the technology may go?”

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Microsoft took a high-profile step at last year’s Connect(); virtual event for developers by unveiling plans to open source .NET on Linux and Mac and introducing the free Visual Studio Community for targeting any device and any operating system. At this year’s Connect();, the company is reinforcing its commitment by adding innovation to tools that existing customers will love, making powerful tools more open and flexible, and providing new ways for more devs to access Microsoft tools. Read Thomas Kohnstamm’s feature story about it. Also check out this story by Suzanne Choney about people who found success by using these collaborative tools.

Joseph Sirosh, corporate vice president, Microsoft Data Group

Joseph Sirosh, corporate vice president, Microsoft Data Group

To celebrate its 100th anniversary, Coca-Cola partnered with Microsoft to create an original experience inspired by How-Old.net. Coke fans are invited to upload a photo that includes a glass contour Coke bottle, or simply the bottle itself, to How-Old.net to unlock a surprise.

“We’re onto something that is relatively unique,” says Joseph Sirosh, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Data Group, which includes the team of engineers who built the Machine Learning and Big Data capabilities that are the heart of Cortana Analytics Suite. Developers on his team were the ones who came up with How-Old.net. Sirosh’s team also worked on the challenge issued by Coca-Cola to take the How-Old.net app one step further by recognizing specific objects, such as a contoured glass Coca-Cola bottle, in pictures users upload.

Find out more through the full story behind this collaboration between Microsoft and Coca-Cola.

Satya for slideshow

On Tuesday, at the Microsoft Government Cloud Forum in Washington, D.C., Microsoft announced plans to enhance its protection of customer data with the new Cyber Defense Operations Center, and the new Microsoft Enterprise Cybersecurity Group. The state-of-the-art Cyber Defense Operations Center brings together security response experts from across the company to help protect, detect and respond to threats in real time, writes Bret Arsenault, Microsoft chief information security officer. To find out more, read his post on The Official Microsoft Blog.

This week on the Microsoft Instagram channel, we checked in with Estella Pyfrom. Last year, she was featured in Microsoft’s Super Bowl ad with her Brilliant Bus, which brings internet and digital education to schools and community centers. As a CNN Hero, Pyfrom has brought technology to more than 60,000 children in underserved neighborhoods.

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

Posted by Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff

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Microsoft expands IT training for active-duty US service members, ‘Halo 5: Guardians’ breaks records – Weekend Reading: Nov. 6 edition

It was a good week for Master Chief, and for U.S. service members seeking to master IT skills to help them transition from military to civilian life. Let’s get to it!

The Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA) is expanding from three locations to nine, and will be servicing 12 military installations. The MSSA program uses a service member’s time prior to transitioning out of the service to train him or her in specialized technology management areas like server cloud/database, business intelligence and software development. After successfully completing the program, participants have an interview for a full-time job at Microsoft or one of its hiring partners. “On this Veterans Day 2015, it’s the responsibility of the IT industry to honor those who have served with more than an artillery salute and a brief word of thanks,” says Chris Cortez, vice president of Military Affairs at Microsoft, and retired U.S. Marine Corps major general. “We are compelled to set an example of what it can look like to dig in with our transitioning service members as they prepare to cross the bridge to the civilian world.”

A week after launching worldwide, “Halo 5: Guardians” broke records as biggest Halo launch ever and the fastest-selling Xbox One exclusive game to-date, with more than $400 million in global sales of “Halo 5: Guardians” games and hardware. The “Halo 5: Live” launch celebration also earned a Guinness World Records title for the most-watched video game launch broadcast, with more than 330,000 unique streams on the evening of the broadcast.

Halo 5: Guardians, launch, New York City

In China, millions of people are carrying on casual conversations with a Microsoft technology called XiaoIce. Hsiao-Wuen Hon, corporate vice president in charge of Microsoft Research Asia, sees XiaoIce as an example of the vast potential that artificial intelligence holds — not to replace human tasks and experiences, but rather to augment them, writes Allison Linn. Hon recently joined some of the world’s leading computer scientists at the 21st Century Computing Conference in Beijing, an annual meeting of researchers and computer science students, to discuss some emerging trends.

MSR, China, AI, artificial intelligence

Microsoft and Red Hat announced a partnership that will help customers embrace hybrid cloud computing by providing greater choice and flexibility deploying Red Hat solutions on Microsoft Azure. Also announced: Microsoft acquired Mobile Data Labs, creator of the popular MileIQ app, which takes advantage of sensors in modern mobile devices to automatically and contextually capture, log and calculate business miles, allowing users to confidently claim tax deductions. The acquisition is the latest example of Microsoft’s ambition to reinvent productivity and business process in a mobile-first, cloud-first world, says Rajesh Jha, corporate vice president for Outlook and Office 365.

MileIQ

We got to know some pretty cool people doing really cool things. Among them: The team members of Loop who created the Arrow and Next Lock Screen apps through the Microsoft Garage. We also were introduced to Scott McBride, a Navy vet whose internship at Microsoft led to a full-time job; he’s now a business program manager for Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group. McBride will be helping Microsoft recruit new hires this fall.

Microsoft Garage, Loop Team, apps

Microsoft Loop team photographed in their new workspace, under construction in Bellevue, Washington. (Photography by Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures)

A game with a deceptively simple, one-word title, “Prune,” is the App of the Week. In it, you give life to a forgotten landscape, and uncover a story that’s hidden deep beneath the soil. You’ll cultivate a sapling into a full-grown tree, and watch it evolve in an elegant but sparse environment. It’s up to you to bring the tree toward the sunlight, or shield it from the dangers of a hostile world. You can install “Prune” for $3.99 from the Windows Store.

Prune, games, Windows

“Prune”

This week on the Microsoft Instagram channel, we met Thavius Beck. Beyond being a musician, Thavius is a performer, producer and teacher. He uses his Surface Book to spread his love of music and perform in completely new ways.

Instagram, Surface Book

Thanks for reading! Have a good weekend, and we’ll see you back here next Friday!

Posted by Suzanne Choney
Microsoft News Center Staff

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Microsoft researchers help a race pilot go faster, Surface Pro 4 gets down to business and Windows 10 devices get a world-wide celebration – Weekend Reading, Oct. 23 edition

From up in the air to eastern Africa, lots of cool Microsoft news happened this week. Dig in!

Microsoft researchers were busy in Las Vegas helping Red Bull Air Race pilot Kirby Chambliss fly the fastest, most efficient way possible.

Chambliss already races at a speed of more than 200 miles per hour, sometimes while upside down. But with control theory, robotics, machine learning and path planning, researchers are working to shave his time by a tenth to a hundredth of a second.

“You get two-tenths of a second here and two-tenths of a second there, and now you’re winning,” Chambliss said.

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In awesome device news, the Surface Pro 4 has been adopted by businesses faster than any previous Surface. Since the newest Surface devices were unveiled two weeks ago, there has been “unprecedented interest from our business customers in Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book,” wrote Cyril Belikoff, Microsoft Surface senior director.

“We are pleased and humbled to announce 10 new business customers and three leading educational institutions who have committed to buying Surface Pro 4, even before it is generally available,” Belikoff said.

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Microsoft also celebrated its partners and their Windows 10 devices, wrapping up a world tour that unveiled 50 new devices from Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP Lenovo, LG and Toshiba.

“Since the debut of Windows 10, we’ve encouraged our hardware partners to put the operating system to work – and they are doing just that with their incredible new devices, which light up with Cortana, Microsoft Edge, Continuum, Xbox, and so much more,” wrote Terry Myerson, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Windows and Devices Group.

Myerson traveled to Barcelona, Taipei and other cities, before ending the tour in San Francisco, where Lenovo unveiled two new YOGA series PCs.

In other news, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gave props to Microsoft, in the form of its “Green Power Partner of the Year” award. The EPA honored Microsoft — fully powered by renewable energy since 2014 — for its green power use, leadership, energy strategy and impact on the green power market.

The newly released Microsoft 2015 Citizenship Report also detailed the company’s commitment to making the world a better place. The report outlined the year’s top accomplishments, which include creating opportunities for millions of young people and becoming the second largest user of green power in the U.S.

Microsoft technologies are also making a difference in Africa. This week, Microsoft Translator launched support for its first African language, Kiswahili (also known as Swahili), which is spoken by up to 150 million people in eastern Africa. The region includes Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The translation service helps people and groups bridge borders, from governments wanting to share information to non-government groups wanting to communicate with locals.

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An updated “Trivial Pursuit & Friends” was the App of the Week, sporting a new look and more ways to have fun. Up to four players can now join the party and new topics include “Zombie Apocalypse” and “Fashionista.” Download “Trivial Pursuit & Friends” for free from the Windows Store.

And finally this week, the Microsoft social channels ventured inside Building 87, where scientist Stevie Bathiche and his team of researchers are engineering the connection between humans and their computers.

Thanks for reading and see you next week!

Vanessa Ho
Microsoft News Center Staff

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