Get in the Holiday Spirit – with NORAD Tracks Santa and Internet Explorer

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – and Microsoft is excited to be partnering again with the North American Aerospace Defense Command (“NORAD”) to create their annual Santa Tracker web site! A holiday staple for nearly 60 years, NORAD Tracks Santa allows millions of people every year to watch Santa as he makes his annual trip around the globe. This year’s site – built as part of the Internet Explorer campaign to Rethink what the web can be – features a brand new set of games, improved performance, and an optimized mobile experienced, in addition to the ability to track Santa with the help of Bing Maps.

Santa's Village

The NORAD Tracks Santa website features a beautiful, inviting landscape in the classic “Claymation” holiday style. The experience is optimized for touch, from the rotatable globe to the parallax-style navigation to the brand new games. On December 24th, when Santa’s journey begins, you will be able to track him on an interactive, 3D globe – featuring a Bing Maps overlay. Additionally, at every stop along the way, users will be able to click off to a specially-curated Bing results page – to get fun facts and beautiful imagery for each location.

In addition, this year’s NORAD Tracks Santa website has been updated to allow Santa Trackers to follow the big man around the globe on their mobile device. The website was built using responsive design – meaning users will get an optimized experience whether they are using PC, tablet, or mobile phone. And because the site was built using modern web standards, like WebGL, it will work across any modern browser, such Internet Explorer 11.

NORAD Santa - Mobile                              NORAD Santa - mobile

But the fun doesn’t stop there! For the first time, users on Windows Phone will be able to track Santa with Cortana. Cortana will be getting her information straight from NORAD’s advanced systems, to ensure to the most accurate, up-to-date data. Want to see for yourself – try asking Cortana “Where is Santa now?”

Looking for even more holiday fun? Stay tuned for a chance to send your favorite holiday traditions, memories, and wishes to Skype via Video Message and be featured on the website, and other great prizes. Or check out the NORAD Tracks Santa OneDrive page for free downloadable coloring pages and other fun content to keep the kids entertained.

The NORAD Tracks Santa experience is part of the IE team’s Rethink initiative, to create real-world sites that push the limits of what is possible on the web today with a modern browser. Check out some of our other Rethink experiences, including CyArk, Hover, and Everest: Rivers of Ice.

We’re thrilled to have the chance to work with NORAD again to help make the holidays come to life! We hope you and your loved ones have a chance to join us in visiting the NORAD Tracks Santa experience.


Steve Lake

Product Marketing Manager, Internet Explorer



Veeam Task Manager for Hyper-V

A little while ago Veeam released a nifty little tool called the “Veeam Task Manager for Hyper-V”.  You can download it from here:

So what is it?  What does it do? And why is it useful?

Well, simply put – it looks like task manager, but instead of showing you processes it shows you virtual machines:


So why is this useful?  Well, a lot of people do not realize this – but when you open task manager on a Hyper-V system, you only see information about the processes running in the host OS.  You do not see any information about virtual machines.

This means that you can have a system that is under high load from virtual machines, but task manager in the host OS says that nothing much is happening (which is correct – for the host OS).

Furthermore – Hyper-V manager only shows you information about virtual machines, not about what is happening in the host OS.

The Veeam Task Manager shows you both at the same time, which makes it a very useful troubleshooting tool.  For this reason, I have it installed on the majority of my Hyper-V servers.  It also runs on core server installations, and on the free Microsoft Hyper-V server:


One tip, if you are running on a core installation, consider creating a shortcut or an alias.  In the picture above I am creating a PowerShell alias called “vmtaskmgr” that launches the Veeam Task Manager for Hyper-V.  This just makes it easier for me to use from the command line.


Microsoft acquires Acompli, provider of innovative mobile email apps

I’m pleased to announce that Microsoft has acquired Acompli, provider of innovative mobile email apps for iOS and Android.

This acquisition is part of our company-wide effort to help people accomplish more with their mobile devices. This year we brought Office to the iPad and the iPhone, and we recently announced that we’re bringing Office to Android devices. These are significant steps in our work to deliver the best productivity experiences across mobile platforms, and we’re continuing to push forward.

In a world where more than half of email messages are first read on a mobile device, it’s essential to give people fantastic email experiences wherever they go. The Acompli team is passionate about this quest. Their app provides innovative ways to focus on what’s important in your inbox, to schedule meetings, and work with attachments and files. Users love how it connects to all email services and provides a single place to manage email with a focus on getting things done. It consistently receives enthusiastic feedback from users and strong app store ratings. Reviews have called it “your new best friend,” “brilliant” and “must have for BYOD.”

We’re excited about what’s possible as we build on the app’s success and bring it together with work currently in progress by the Outlook team. Our goal is to deliver fantastic cross-platform apps that support the variety of email services people use today and help them accomplish more.

This acquisition brings us an app with innovative technology and a set of talented people who are passionate about reinventing email and communications on mobile screens. It will expedite our work to deliver the full power of Office to mobile devices. Stay tuned for more details in the coming months. You can also read a blog post by Acompli CEO Javier Soltero here.