Category Archives: Microsoft Blog

Microsoft Blog

Microsoft releases Kinect SDK 2.0 and new adapter kit

Today, we have some exciting news to share about the next chapter for Kinect. Our Windows SDK 2.0 is now available for the Kinect v2 sensors, and developers can commercially deploy Kinect apps in the Windows Store for the first time.

Kinect democratized motion sensing in 2010 and today that journey continues. We are introducing a $49.99 (USD) adapter kit that enables you to take the Kinect for Xbox One you already own and attach it to Windows PCs and tablets. With the adapter, all Kinect v2 sensors—Kinect for Windows v2 and Kinect for Xbox One—perform identically.

Kinect SDK 2.0. Since last November when we gave our developer preview program participants access to an early version of the SDK, we have been listening. Over the past year, the team has engaged in dozens of hackathons, worked through countless issues reported by you, and we are only getting started. Thank you for the amazing feedback, dedication, and passion!

The Kinect SDK 2.0 is available today for you to download for free here. There are no fees for runtime licenses of commercial applications developed with the SDK. With over 200 improvements and updates to the SDK since we released the public preview in June, including enhancements to Visual Gesture Builder, Kinect Studio, and Kinect Fusion, we get you coding faster with a substantially more stable and feature-rich product. 

Kinect Apps in Windows Store. For the first time, you can commercially deploy Kinect apps in the Windows Store. This was a frequent request from the community and we are delighted to enable you to bring more personal computing experiences that feature gesture control, body tracking, and object recognition to Windows customers around the world. Access to the Windows Store opens a whole new marketplace for business and consumer experiences. Several of our partners have already taken advantage of this and have apps available for download in the Windows Store today including:

  • Kinect Evolution: An app that helps developers understand the core capabilities of the Kinect for Windows v2 technology.
  • YAKiT: An entertaining app from the developers at Freak n’ Genius that allows people without design expertise to animate 2D or 3D characters in real time.
  • 3D Builder: An app that enables anyone to scan a person or object, turn it into a 3D model, and create a 3D print of that model. You no longer have to be a technologist or have access to a 3D printer to create amazing 3D prints!

Kinect Adapter for Windows. On Oct. 7, we introduced a standalone version of Kinect for Xbox One.  We are extending the value for Xbox and Windows customers with the availability of the Kinect Adapter for Windows for $49.99 (USD). This adapter allows you to use the Kinect for Xbox One with Windows 8.0 and Windows 8.1 through a USB 3.0 port. Purchasing the Kinect for Xbox One sensor along with the adapter brings it to price parity with the existing Kinect for Windows v2 sensor. The Kinect Adapter for Windows is available in over two dozen countries and regions – rolling out later today – and will be available in a total of 41 in coming weeks.

These updates are all part of our goal to make Kinect accessible and easy to use for every developer. We created Kinect as a way to make computer interaction more intuitive and to address an increasing desire for technology to be more accessible. We are seeing a lot of interest from businesses to bring interactive experiences to their customers that allow people to interact naturally with technology by simply gesturing and speaking. Now, with the ability to commercially deploy the latest Kinect technology in a variety of industries and environments, there is a big opportunity for developers to meet the demand.

Here are two examples of things partners are doing with the technology today:

  • Care Innovations, a joint venture from Intel and GE, and developers at RespondWell, are working together to provide new physical therapy resources for seniors. They understand how difficult it can be for seniors to visit their therapist’s office on a daily basis, so they created an interactive program to help patients exercise in the comfort of their own home while providing Kinect-based gesture monitoring to ensure patients are exercising with the proper form. The program also provides valuable insight for their therapists to track the progress of their patients.
  • Ubi Interactive is bringing their interactive technology that turns any surface into a touchscreen to Colegio de Bachilleres del Estado de Puebla in Puebla, Mexico. The solution creates an interactive whiteboard for teachers where they can bring subjects like physics, history and math to life through dynamic content that grabs the attention of the whole class. The school district is breaking down barriers of access to Internet resources for their students and is the first education institution to utilize this type of interactive teaching. The Ubi Interactive solution has been deployed in classrooms throughout the district, bringing learning to life for more than 26,000 Mexican students.

These are just a few examples where our partners are improving the human experience. As we move into a more personal, natural, and intuitive era of computing, we are thrilled to see the valuable and creative ways in which Kinect is being embraced, and look forward to seeing what you will do with it next.

It’s a humbling and amazing dream to be able to represent this team. In that spirit, and from all of us, thank you! I’m excited about the impact Kinect can have on society in areas like healthcare, retail, entertainment, and education and can’t wait to see what you do with it next.

 

 

Microsoft publishes its Annual Citizenship Report for fiscal year 2014

On Monday, we published the Microsoft 2014 Citizenship Report. Microsoft’s citizenship commitments, to serve our communities and fulfill our responsibilities to the public, are based on our core belief that these commitments and actions contribute long-term value to society and to our business. As a reflection of that belief, we publish the Microsoft Citizenship Report each year at the same time as our Annual Report.

During fiscal year 2014, Microsoft made strong progress across the broad range of our citizenship commitments, including, for the first time, surpassing $1 billion in total company annual giving.

Highlights from the Microsoft 2014 Citizenship Report include:

  • We advanced our three-year commitment to create opportunities for 300 million youth by 2015 under the Microsoft YouthSpark YouthSpark has created education, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for 227 million youth since launch, including 124 million in fiscal year 2014.
  • We expanded our work to help nonprofits do more good with technology by donating software and hardware to more than 86,000 nonprofits around the globe. This includes the donation of Office 365 Nonprofits to 11,500 nonprofits in 74 countries.
  • For the third year in a row, our employees and our company match program contributed more than $100 million to nonprofits worldwide.
  • We took new steps to meet our longstanding commitment to ensuring the privacy and security of our customers’ data, including expanding our use of encryption across our services, providing choice and transparency on data location, and strengthening legal protections for customers’ privacy.
  • We built on our industry-leading carbon neutrality program with expanded investments in renewable energy to power our cloud services by purchasing more than three billion kilowatt hours of green power, equal to 100 percent of our global electricity use.

As described more fully in the report, these and other citizenship initiatives and results underscore our commitment to operate our business in ways that meet the highest standards of corporate social responsibility. They also reflect the dedication of our employees, who every day strive to create technology to help others do more and achieve more in their lives.

We recognize that there is always more that we can do, and we welcome ongoing feedback from our many stakeholders around the world. Please let us know your thoughts. We look forward to hearing from you.

Delivering a complete cloud for every business, industry and geography

Today I joined our CEO Satya Nadella onstage in San Francisco to talk about Microsoft’s approach to delivering the industry’s complete cloud – one for every business, every industry and every geography. Cloud is transforming our world today at an accelerated pace and businesses are redefining what is possible with Microsoft’s cloud. From creating an intelligent asset monitoring system that improves business operations in real time, to reaching millions of users on every imaginable device, to storing and distributing massive amounts of data – the cloud is behind it all.

When I talk to customers and startups about how to meet today’s business challenges with cloud, I talk to them about what our cloud platform can uniquely do to transform their businesses. The first way we are different is our hyper-scale – and this matters because it gives customers the ability to reach the maximum number of their customers, realize incredible economic value and run the most challenging workloads. The second is our focus on being enterprise grade. We’ve been helping enterprises run their business for years and our cloud meets the critical security, reliability and availability needs they have. We also deliver on the promise of an open platform – supporting all the languages, tools and frameworks they need and want to run. Finally, our focus on hybrid ensures our enterprise customers get the power of the cloud where they want it – in our public cloud, service provider clouds or in their clouds.

Today we announced several innovations to help accelerate our customers’ adoption of cloud computing. Our new G-series virtual machines, along with Premium Storage, will enable customers to run the most demanding workloads in the largest virtual machines available in the public cloud today. The Microsoft Cloud Platform System, powered by Dell, is the next step in hybrid cloud and brings all our learnings running Azure to your datacenter. Finally, we announced the new Azure Marketplace, an easy way for startups and ISVs to connect with enterprises and Azure customers everywhere so their innovative solutions can be deployed in just a few clicks. Last week we announced a partnership with Docker and today I’m excited to have CoreOS and Cloudera join them, Oracle and hundreds of other partners in the Azure Marketplace.

These innovations are just a few of the more than 300 major enhancements we’ve made to Azure in the last 12 months. This rapid innovation across our core areas of differentiation – hyper-scale, enterprise grade and hybrid – is what gives us the ability to deliver the industry’s most complete cloud – for every business, every industry and every geography.

Azure boasts new machine learning capabilities and Microsoft reveals details of Ignite conference — Weekend Reading: Oct. 17th Edition

Greetings, Weekend Reading warriors. Whether your head’s in the clouds, or you’ve got boots on the ground, we’ve got news for you. Read on.

At the big data event Strata + Hadoop World in New York, Microsoft announced Wednesday the expansion of Azure data services, including support of real-time analytics for Apache Hadoop in Azure HDInsight and new machine learning capabilities in the Azure Marketplace.

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Hang onto your collective hats. Microsoft is scrapping some of its annual individual events in favor of a massive, unified enterprise technology conference in May. Held in Chicago, Microsoft Ignite will include a keynote address by Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella and appearances by a who’s who of the company’s technical and business leaders.

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Did we say boots on the ground? Microsoft and salesforce.com unveiled new joint solutions — designed to empower individuals and organizations to be more productive — during Dreamforce 2014, this week in San Francisco. The software includes: Salesforce1 for Windows, Salesforce for Office, Power BI for Office 365 and Excel integrations with Salesforce.

Speaking of strategic partnerships, Microsoft and Docker Inc., the company behind the Docker open platform for distributed applications, announced on Wednesday that a future release of Windows Server will support Docker’s new container technologies. The goal is to drive productivity by enabling virtual real-time change to application code.

Make your Skype time more productive, and more fun, with Skype Qik, a new messaging app that provides ongoing video chats so you can capture moments, share laughs and chat with groups of friends. Or, use a Qik Flik to record five-second videos when you want to reply to a message but are pressed for time. Available on Android and iPhone and coming to Windows Phone.

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In apps this week: Xim, from Microsoft Research, takes real-time photo sharing to a whole new level and Facebook for Windows Phone gets prettier and more versatile. Never leave the couch again! The Roku app, available from the Windows and the Windows Phone Store, allows you to wirelessly duplicate what’s on your Miracast-enabled Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 devices to your TV screen.

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This week on the Microsoft Facebook page, we introduced the first-ever 3D-printed, Lumia-powered robotic space observatory.

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Enjoy the weekend — whether that means soaring or staying grounded. See you back here, next week.

Posted by Aimee Riordan
Microsoft News Center Staff

Introducing Microsoft Ignite and our lineup of top conferences in 2015

Ignite: verb ig-ˈnīt

: to set something on fire

: to begin burning

: to give life or energy to someone or something 

Last July, we put the word out that Microsoft will host a unified enterprise technology conference in May. We told you it will bring together the best of previously individual events – the Management Summit, the Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Project, and TechEd conferences – and then take it to the next level, based on what our customers and partners have asked for. Now, we have more to share.

Microsoft Ignite is May 4-8 in Chicago at McCormick Place. Satya Nadella will keynote and will be joined by technical and business leaders including Brad Anderson, Joe Belfiore, Dave Campbell, Peggy Johnson, Chris Jones, Julie Larson Green, Gurdeep Singh Pall and many others.

Ignite rounds out our schedule of key events for professional communities in the first half of 2015. We start with Convergence 2015 in Atlanta, March 16-19, the place where business leaders gather to explore solutions. //Build in San Francisco, April 29-May 1, is where developers will hear the latest about our platform strategy, technologies and opportunities. Then we turn to Ignite, followed by the Worldwide Partner Conference in Orlando, July 12-16, for our enormous partner community.

Ignite is the new entry, so here’s more about it.

If you are on the hook to help your company make the right tech moves in the new world of mobile and cloud, Ignite is the show for you. For the first time ever, we’re putting under one roof the education, vision and guidance for the full spectrum of our enterprise solutions. Our best and brightest minds, along with thousands of your peers, will be there to help you chart the course for your team, your company and your career.

We’re rewiring what a Microsoft enterprise tech conference is and does, from how you will plan your week ahead of time, to how you’ll use social media to get the most out of the event, to how you’ll enjoy the city of Chicago. Whether you’re a senior tech strategist or a hard core, hands-on admin, you’re going to be…well, stoked.

Ignite is where you’ll come up with your next great idea, based on what you learn about the upcoming wave of products and services. We’re going to cover it all, across cloud infrastructure and management, big data and analytics, productivity, unified communications, operating systems, mobile devices and more. You’ll get the practical guidance and the insight you need to build a game plan for that big project. You’ll learn from people who have reached the pinnacle of success, overcome the impossible and learned the hard lessons. You’ll dive deep with our experts, share stories with other professionals, and have some laughs, too.

In addition to hundreds of sessions, technical training, hands-on labs and opportunities for certification, we’re making it a priority to give attendees direct access to hundreds of Microsoft engineers and executives. Our top gearheads and thought leaders will be there in force, ready to step down from the podium and get into the weeds with you.

Take a look at what Ignite has to offer. Registration is open now. Don’t wait too long to start making the case to your management why you can’t miss it.

You can go here at 11:30 a.m. PST to watch a live stream of the press conference where Mayor Rahm Emanuel will welcome Ignite to Chicago. Oh, and by the way, May 4th is Star Wars Day. While you’re in Chicago, you can check out progress on construction of the Lucas Museum. May the 4th be with you. :)

Azure adds real-time analytics for Hadoop and new machine learning capabilities

Today at Strata + Hadoop World in New York, one of the industry’s premier big data events, we’re announcing the expansion of our Azure data services. These announcements and our participation in the event are part of our commitment to bring big data to everyone by leveraging the power, flexibility and scale of the cloud.

We’re announcing support of real-time analytics for Apache Hadoop in Azure HDInsight and new machine learning capabilities in the Azure Marketplace. Our partner and Hadoop vendor Hortonworks also announced how they are integrating with Microsoft Azure with the latest release of the Hortonworks Data Platform. On Friday, my colleague Corporate Vice President of Machine Learning Joseph Sirosh, will give a keynote at the conference where he will discuss how removing the barriers to broad adoption of advanced analytics creates new opportunities for our customers and data scientists.

Big data, including Hadoop and advanced analytics, is changing the way our customers do business. As they collect and store more data than ever before, they expect more from their data and want more insights from it, including being able to do real-time analytics over streams of data to complement their existing Hadoop deployments. Microsoft’s approach is to make it easier for our customers to work with data of any type and size — using the tools, languages and frameworks they want — in a trusted cloud environment.

To do this, we are delivering a comprehensive set of cloud solutions — from Azure Machine Learning, Azure HDInsight and our other Azure data services — to managed data services from our partners. We’re committed to supporting the broadest data platform so our customers find real value in the cloud, on their terms. With our big data and cloud solutions, customers like MediaCom, Pier 1 Imports and ThyssenKrupp Elevator have more options to enable new scenarios to gain deeper insight from their data and improve the way they deliver services and products to their customers.

Azure HDInsight combines the best of Hadoop open source technology with the elasticity and manageability enterprises require. Available in preview today, we are supporting Apache Storm in HDInsight, allowing our customers to process millions of items of Hadoop data from their Internet of Things devices in near real time using a fully managed Hadoop service. By bringing real-time analytics capabilities to HDInsight, we are opening up new customer scenarios such as the ability to analyze operational data in real time for predictive maintenance.

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On Wednesday, Microsoft introduced Apache Storm for real-time analytics for Hadoop.

The preview availability of Storm in HDInsight continues Microsoft’s investment in the Hadoop ecosystem and HDInsight. Recently, we announced support for HBase clusters and the availability of HDInsight as the first global Hadoop big data service in China. And together with Hortonworks, we continue to contribute code and engineering hours to many Hadoop projects.

As part of their integration with the Azure platform, Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP) has achieved Azure Certification. In the next version of HDP, Hortonworks is also delivering hybrid data connectors so customers can extend their on-premise Hadoop deployments to Azure and leverage the cloud for backup, scale and testing.

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Announced Wednesday, Hortonworks HDP 2.2 includes hybrid connectors to move data to Microsoft Azure. It will be available in November.

Introduced this summer and available now in preview, Microsoft Azure Machine Learning helps customers and partners rapidly design, test, automate and manage predictive analytics solutions in the cloud. For example, search engines, online product recommendations, credit card fraud prevention systems, GPS traffic directions and mobile phone personal assistants all use the power of machine learning to provide people with valuable insight.

Today, we are introducing new machine learning capabilities in the Azure Marketplace enabling customers and partners to access machine learning capabilities as Web services. These include a recommendation engine for adding product recommendations to a website, an anomaly detection service for predictive maintenance or fraud detection and a set of R packages, a popular programming language used by data scientists. These new capabilities will be available as finished examples for anyone to try.

On Thursday, Joseph Sirosh will share more about these new capabilities on the machine learning blog. To find out more about how Microsoft’s data platform is helping customers create new solutions that bring together big data insights, predictive analytics and powerful visualizations, go here.

Read a choose-your-story adventure inspired by ‘Project Spark’

It’s 11 a.m. and you’re still in your pajamas – plaid shorts, a faded David Bowie t-shirt and worn moccasin slippers. Brows furrowed, deep in thought, you tap your fingers on the desktop, creating concentric circles in your now-cold coffee. Your eyes drift back and forth between a stack of notebooks (filled with your handwriting) and the Microsoft Word document on your laptop (all but empty).

“’Project Spark’ – where players create, and creators play.” It’s all you’ve managed to type so far. Your word-starved cursor blinks eagerly. How do you even begin to tell the story of “Project Spark?” The new video game for Xbox One and PC is a traditional game in some ways, but it’s also a digital bucket of Legos that players of all skill levels can use to make virtually anything.

We’re talking creativity unfettered, here. During its beta, “Project Spark” users built a little bit of everything – first-person shooters, medieval quests, movies, music videos, heroes, villains, flying cows, flaming sand beasts – even a 30-foot guy in his underwear dancing “Gangnam Style” in a village square. Everything.

With “Project Spark” making its official world debut in stores this week, its creators and early devotees hope the game will spread far beyond its million beta users and help break the glass between players and their adventures (not unlike how YouTube helped transform a world of video watchers into an army of camera-wielding, homespun videographers).

Your gaze rises to the wall above your computer. There hangs a small postcard of Ira Glass, one of your storytelling heroes. You imagine him giving you an unsympathetic look, pushing his glasses up and gently chiding you in his trademark public radio cadence: “You know, great stories happen to those who can tell them.”

“But imaginary Ira, how do I tell this one? And how do I make it great?”

Before postcard Ira can answer, you’re interrupted by the ding of a new email. It’s your boss, Ben, suggesting that you travel to a video game convention in Boston to get a better idea of what “Project Spark” is all about.

Read the full story at microsoft.com/stories.

A first look at Windows 10 — Weekend Reading: Oct. 3rd Edition

In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on the introduction of Windows 10, the relationship between Microsoft and the NFL, and a YouthSpark expedition into the jungle with five young technologists.

Terry Myerson, executive vice president, Operating Systems, introduced Windows 10 as “the first step of a whole new generation of Windows.” Windows 10 will run across a broad set of devices – from the Internet of Things, to servers in enterprise datacenters worldwide. “We’re not talking about one UI to rule them all – we’re talking about one product family, with a tailored experience for each device. And across this breadth of devices, we are delivering one application platform for our developers. Whether you’re building a game or a line-of-business application, there will be one way to write a universal app that targets the entire family. There will be one store, one way for applications to be discovered, purchased and updated across all of these devices.”

Now that the NFL season is in full swing, fans and teams can find new and better ways to experience this fall favorite thanks to the ongoing collaborative sponsorship between Microsoft and the NFL. Through the Microsoft NFL app for Xbox One, fantasy football aficionados and amateurs can fully engage in the fierce competitiveness that defines the fun and the drama of this pastime within a pastime. And on the field, players and coaches are using the specially designed Microsoft Surface Sideline Viewing System.​

Five young technologists who entered Microsoft YouthSpark’s “Challenge for Change” contest are thrust into a situation that will challenge them to the core, and in doing so, change them forever. They sent in ideas for how to use technology to make their communities better. Then, they were named among 20 finalists and after public voting online, they each won a pile of Microsoft technology, $2,500 for their projects and a two-week trip to Ecuador to help them boost their leadership skills and galvanize their knack for creating change.

The new MSN arrived. The new MSN rolled out Monday to more than 425 million people in 50 countries that come to the site each month. The top of the homepage now has one-click access to all favorite services including Outlook.com, Office, OneNote, OneDrive, Skype, Facebook and Twitter. It provides a global, comprehensive perspective from thousands of authoritative sources across 11 categories and it’s easy to personalize based on your interests. With this release, there is now one unified, consistent Azure-powered experience that spans the apps on Windows 8.1 devices to MSN in the cloud. While Bing will continue to provide search and intelligent experiences, now the apps will be branded to reflect their alignment with MSN.

HP General

Microsoft Office released a preview of a new content creating tool and new Office 365 plans for small and mid-sized business. Office Sway provides an easy way to make and share interactive creations. A “Sway” is the canvas you create using Sway. Drop in your content from your cloud storage, your devices or social networks. Sway’s built-in design engine takes the hassle out of formatting your content, integrating it into a cohesive layout as you work. New Office 365 plans for small and mid-sized businesses became available this week. They offer more flexibility, with the ability to mix and match plans to meet specific employees’ needs. They also provide more value by offering additional services such as Yammer.

Fans of games and apps found sales, updates and new additions to the Stores. The latest Red Stripe Deals give you discounts of at least 50 percent, for instance. Now, you can tell Cortana to “Shazam” that song on the radio. Get your motor running and head out on the highway with the App of the Week, “Asphalt Overdrive.” And, the Sibos financial conference revealed new apps and services from Microsoft customers and partners.

This week on the Microsoft Facebook page, we asked fans about their passions outside of work. Tell us how you own your #5to9.

5To9_EOD

Thanks for checking out this edition of Weekend Reading. Hope your first fall weekends are going well. See you next week!

Posted by Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff

The heart of the jungle: How five young technologists changed their communities, the jungle and themselves

Even in the jungle, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

It will also be one of the only times to catch Sara Stifler, Sathya Narayanan Subramanian, Dominic Co, Juan Carlos Murillo and Laura Fulton holding still. It will be where we discuss life, love, technology and the point of it all over eggs, toast, plantains and exotic juices. 

Over the clatter of coffee cups and silverware, these five will slowly reveal themselves and their plans to change the world and, in doing so, swiftly dispatch of any unflattering notions I may have had lingering about Millennials. (In fact, their optimism is so contagious, and their capabilities and confidence so comforting, that one day I caught myself humming “We Are the World” while leaving breakfast – entirely without irony.)  

Like John Hughes’ coming-of-age masterpiece nearly 30 years ago, this Breakfast Club consists of five young people with seemingly very little in common who are thrust into a situation that will challenge them to the core, and in doing so, change them forever. Unlike the original Breakfast Club, these five have reported to a lodge in the Amazon rainforest, not detention. (Also, as the oldest among them was born in 1991, none of them have even seen the movie, but they politely listen and nod while I explain its premise and cultural importance.)

Months ago, before they shopped for two weeks’ worth of quick-dry clothing and headed for a lodge in South America, these five entered Microsoft YouthSpark’s “Challenge for Change” contest. First, they sent in their (vastly different) ideas for how to use technology to make their communities better. Next, they were named among 20 finalists and then, after a tense period of public voting online, they emerged victorious. They each won a pile of Microsoft technology, $2,500 to help with their projects and a two-week trip to Ecuador to help them boost their leadership skills and galvanize their knack for creating change. 

Breakfast is where we will learn that Fulton earned a patent before she graduated from high school (for a synthetic tooth enamel she invented), and that at home Murillo has a parrot named Max that does a spot-on imitation of his mom calling him to dinner, and that Co doesn’t really like ice cream (though his mother runs Dippin’ Dots in the Philippines), and that Subramanian is 100 percent reliable at cracking wise when things get too serious or heavy, and that Stifler spent the summer living in a tent in the woods mainly just to see if she could.

In the span of two weeks, five young adults who started out as strangers armed only with boarding passes and backpacks would become far-flung siblings. In August, they left their homes all over the globe, boarding airplanes bound for an adventure. (Technically the destination was Ecuador, not adventure, but from here on out it is safe to consider the two synonymous.)

Read the full profile at microsoft.com/stories.

New Office 365 plans for small and mid-sized businesses available today

On Thursday, we released a new set of Office 365 plans tailored to meet the needs of businesses ranging in size from one to approximately 250 employees. The new plans are specifically designed for small and midsized businesses (SMBs) at a price point that makes Office 365 an easy decision.

The new Office 365 plans provide the applications and services SMBs need to be productive and successful. They offer more flexibility, with the ability to mix and match plans to meet specific employees’ needs. In addition, the new plans provide more value by offering additional services like Yammer for social networking within a company.

The new Office 365 plans for SMBs are:

  • Office 365 Business: The full Office applications – Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Publisher – and OneDrive for Business cloud storage, which allow SMBs to access, edit and share documents across their Windows PC, Mac, iPad, Windows tablet and smartphone.
  • Office 365 Business Essentials: The core cloud services for running a business – business class email and calendaring, Office Online, online meetings, IM, video conferencing, cloud storage and file sharing and much more.
  • Office 365 Business Premium – Get everything from both the Office 365 Business and Business Essentials plans.

We made these changes to the existing Office 365 plans in response to feedback from our customers, and as part of our longstanding commitment to bring the benefits of cloud-based productivity to every SMB.

Office 365 Plans for SMBs

Overview of the new Office 365 plans for small and medium-sized businesses, including pricing information.

Whether people work for large or small companies, nowadays they regularly work from multiple locations and on multiple devices during their day—maybe checking email on their phone over breakfast, catching up on news from their tablet during the commute, and from their laptop at the office. According to the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), 62 percent of small business employees use mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets to access their email, which is up from 39 percent just three years ago.

Given this new norm, SMBs are realizing that their competitive advantage comes from what they do with technology in and out of the office. The same BCG study referenced above found that tech-savvy SMBs – those using modern technologies such as the cloud – grew their revenue 15 percentage points faster than their counterparts using less technology.

Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park, which has locations across the United States, is one such tech-savvy business. The company was growing fast, and to keep pace it chose Office 365 for its comprehensive email and collaboration capabilities. Sky Zone saved $8,800 in email archive renewal fees on the first day it implemented Office 365, and the company predicts the switch will save it more than $1 million over the next five years. Learn more about Sky Zone’s story – and similar stories from other SMBs that have adopted Office 365 – here.

As always, small and midsized businesses have to be smart about their technology investments. Cloud services like Office 365 aren’t just affordable, they’re transformational for SMBs. They’re easy to deploy, easy to manage and give SMBs a competitive advantage.

To learn more about how Office 365 can help, talk to a technology consultant or sign up for the new plans here.

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