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Bing lesson plans can help students with critical thinking skills, Web research

A Siberian tiger takes a swim at the Antwerp Zoo in Belgium (© Hans Kuczka/Aurora Photos)

A Siberian tiger takes a swim at the Antwerp Zoo in Belgium (© Hans Kuczka/Aurora Photos)

As Alice Keeler looked at her batch of upcoming Bing home pages, the former high school math teacher found the image of the Siberian tiger swimming through the waters of a Belgian zoo very striking. But that wasn’t all.

She started brainstorming possibilities for how to use the image to create a lesson plan; the choices of content were many and wide-ranging (and, for example, could have included having students read William Blake’s poem “The Tyger“). Such lessons, available for free every day through the Bing in the Classroom program, are paired with Bing’s home page image of the day. Keeler is one of four teachers who work on the lesson plans, which are tailored to three different age groups (elementary, middle and high school).

Bing has published nearly 800 of them since the fall of 2013. As teachers and students head back to school, these short lesson plans give them another tool they can use to increase digital literacy and Web research skills.

“We get great feedback from teachers, particularly about the use of the lessons to drive real creativity,” says Matt Wallaert, a behavioral scientist at Bing who created Bing in the Classroom, which also provides free Surface tablets and ad-free Web searches to schools. “It’s easy for search to become about take the question, copy it into the search engine, copy back the answer. And that’s not genuine. Search should be about real things you want to know in the world, and real ways of finding bits of information that can help you learn about them.”

Anyone can get to the lesson plans through the Bing home page. In the lower right corner of the home page image, you click on the “Info” tab and on the results page, you’ll see the image, a short description of the image and underneath, a link to the lesson plans.

Bing home page lesson plan link

Bing home page lesson plan link

“People really like the idea as an important way to explore questions that aren’t being presented in standardized testing,” says Wallaert, who is often on the road and presenting research on digital literacy. “It’s a form of project based learning, and students learn how to present to the class and synthesize information.”

When paired with Bing in the Classroom’s ad-free search offering, the lesson plans allow students practice these critical thinking and search skills in an ad-free, safer, more private online environment. And for schools short on devices, Bing Rewards allows community members to help earn free Surface tablets, just by searching the Web.

The lesson plans all follow the same template, presented through a PowerPoint deck. They start with a critical thinking question designed so that students can’t answer it by simply plugging it into a search box. Then the plans suggest five follow-up questions that online research that can help answer the main question.

A slide from Keeler’s high school lesson plan for the Siberian tiger

A slide from Keeler’s high school lesson plan for the Siberian tiger

For the Siberian tiger image, which published July 29, Keeler started with the question, “Does having tiger parks breed captive tigers as a source of tiger-bone medicine decrease poaching of wild tigers?”

This question can be a launching point from which high school students can find out how many Siberian tigers are in the wild and in captivity, why they’re endangered and what poachers are after.

“I like this one because it is an opportunity to highlight the plight of an endangered species,” says the Central California-based Keeler, a mother of five who taught high school math for 14 years.

Through her blog, Teacher Tech, Keeler encourages other teachers to try out the lesson plans.

Wallaert says the emphasis on multi-part questions can help students work as a team as they gather different pieces of information from multiple sources and searches.

“That’s something only a human can do to get a real answer,” Wallaert says.

There’s also a blank template teachers can use to create their own questions.

“I try to think about questions that would encourage kids to use the Internet and develop skills they might not naturally think about on their own,” says Nell Bang-Jensen, an artist who teaches at numerous theaters and schools around Philadelphia and is developing curriculum for the Philadelphia Young Playwrights. She’s in charge of the K-4 lesson plans for Bing. “We’re giving them solid resources, websites they know they can go to. Some questions, they would have to look at a map, or watch a video, so they’re learning to interpret information presented in different ways.”

Bang-Jensen says the lessons can “lead to larger conversations.” She adds, “Using questions as a way of understanding the world is important.”

For example, with the image below, of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, Bang-Jensen realized the average third-grader may have heard of the famous bard, but might have no context on his life. With her lesson plan, they can check out his basic biography, but also watch clips and find out why people talk differently in his plays.

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, London, England (© Alain Schroeder/age fotostock)

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London, England (© Alain Schroeder/age fotostock)

For Christy Fennewald, who was contracted for a limited span of lesson plans that tied into Microsoft’s first-ever sponsorship of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, the same image inspired a lesson plan that focused on Shakespearean sonnets. She also included a search for words he created and the chance for them to make up their own poems.

For the teachers who create the plans, the lessons help continue their education, too.

“I was a history teacher, so images that point to the deeper story are what I like to pull out,” says Ja’Dell Davis, who works in New York City’s Youth Services Department at the Educational Alliance as the assistant director for Higher Education Initiatives. She handles the middle school lesson plans. “It may be a beautiful image, but it could also be fraught with uncomfortable aspects.”

For instance, when she receives images of landscapes and cities, she researches the story behind the picture, its history and the people who live there or who settled it.

Keeler remembers an image featuring Danyang County in South Korea that was particularly challenging.

“I was expecting a major historical event associated with, but I found nothing. It took a while to find they had a unique folklore tale. So then I wanted to make it a broader question about how folklore develops. That’s not something you can go do a simple search for. You have to look up folklore, find different examples and draw conclusions based on evidence.”

“It’s a fun challenge to see what lessons come in every week,” says Bang-Jensen. “It feels like a puzzle, but it’s also engaging and worthwhile.”

Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff

Royal Caribbean International to provide 40,000 crew members with Windows 8.1 tablets

In line with technology upgrades being made across the Royal Caribbean Cruises fleet, the company is giving all of its 40,000 shipboard crew members Windows 8.1 tablets.

“This technology isn’t only about giving our guests a better vacation – it’s about giving our crew and their families a closer connection than we’ve ever been able to,” says Richard D. Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises.

These Windows tablets can help crew members keep in closer touch with family and friends by using Skype and sharing photos on OneDrive. They can also use Bing and Office 365 to get other tasks done.

The rollout will begin in October and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

The crew of Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Quantum of the Seas, will be the first to receive the eight-inch Windows tablet built by HEXA for the cruise line. This technology-imbued vessel uses new RFID luggage tags and wristbands, which help track bags, orient vacationers onboard, make onboard purchases and unlock rooms. Guests can also watch robots mix their drinks. (Yes, robots.) And, they can play Xbox One on board using faster broadband connections to make the most of live video gaming.

Read more about Royal Caribbean’s technology on the Windows for Business blog, a Microsoft News Center press release and the Royal Caribbean press release.

Previously, Royal Caribbean deployed a Windows Embedded-powered solution that includes point-of-sale (POS) and inspection products.

Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff

Weekend Reading: Aug. 22nd Edition – Microsoft and TracFone partner on a pilot project and the HTC One (M8) comes to Windows

As summer winds down, Weekend Reading delivers stories on a project that helps diabetes patients, a profile on the chief technical officer of Microsoft’s Cloud and Services organization, the debut of the HTC One (M8) for Windows smartphone and Steve Ballmer stepping down from the Microsoft Board of Directors.

A new pilot project, in conjunction with Health Choice Network, will provide Windows Phone devices to diabetes patients to help them better manage their care. Microsoft and pre-paid wireless leader TracFone announced Thursday a better way for underserved and high-risk populations to access and keep up with their care, on the go.

Microsoft and TracFone collaboration on pilot project

Microsoft and TracFone collaboration on pilot project

A profile on Dave Campbell, Chief Technical Officer of Microsoft’s Cloud and Services, uncovers why he’s disruptive. And by that, we mean how one of the company’s elite corps of Technical Fellows can be considered transformative, tearing something down to create something new and better.

Dave Campbell

Dave Campbell

Tuesday, we saw the debut of the HTC One (M8) for Windows. It’s the first device to ship in the U.S. with the Windows Phone 8.1 Update, will be available exclusively through Verizon Wireless online and in stores. It comes loaded with features such as Cortana, Live Folders and Action Center. It’s made from a single block of aluminum, and has a 5-inch Super LCD3 1080p HD display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3.

HTC One (M8) for Windows

HTC One (M8) for Windows

Steve Ballmer steps down as Microsoft board member. Effective Aug. 19, 2014, Steve Ballmer has stepped down from the Microsoft Board of Directors. Read Ballmer’s letter to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Nadella’s response.

A profile on teenager Alejandra Tristan, who has a rare genetic disorder that made it impossible to use a mouse or computer, revealed how Windows 8 has helped transform her life. Tristan suffers from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), which makes her joints fragile and loose. With its customizable design, enhanced accessibility features and touchscreen, Windows 8 has helped Tristan reclaim her studies, her friends and her voice. She writes research papers by gently touching the on-screen keyboard and dictates notes using speech recognition software. When she works on vocabulary words, she uses digital notecards.

Bing Maps crossed a major milestone: more than 100 cities are now available for viewing from a street level perspective and in 3D, including Atlanta, Las Vegas and Omaha. These could come in handy if you’re planning to visit any of these places and want to preview the sights to get oriented. You can see Streetside imagery in both Bing Maps and the Bing Maps Preview app exclusively on Windows 8.1. With this release, Streetside has more than 100 cities. In 3D, more than 125 cities are available through the Bing Maps Preview app.

Las Vegas new on Bing Maps Streetside and 3D

Las Vegas new on Bing Maps Streetside and 3D

Apps and games ranged from working out with the Seattle Seahawks champion quarterback to working on creatures that have invaded a mad professor’s brain. Athlete Fit with Russell Wilson for Xbox Fitness is now available exclusively on Xbox One now and free with Xbox Live Gold memberships. The App of the Week is also on Xbox One: MTV. The weekly Red Stripe Deals included sales of Windows and Windows Phone apps and games – slashed in price by at least 50 percent, and sometimes free. AccuWeather has launched a new version of its Weather for Life app for Windows Phone, which has MinuteCast, a minute-by-minute precipitation forecast for your exact street address or GPS location. And then there’s “Tentacles: Enter the Mind” from the Windows Store and the Windows Phone Store, that plunges you into what Blogging Windows describes as “the crazy story of Dr. Phluff and his tentacled mascot, Lemmy. In the game, they embark on a journey inside the mad Professor to take out the creatures that have overtaken Phluff, progressing through the many layers of his mind from Super Ego to Paranoia.”

Athlete Fit with Russell Wilson for Xbox Fitness

Athlete Fit with Russell Wilson for Xbox Fitness

The Lotus F1 Teamuses Microsoft Dynamics AX under the hood to manage the design, manufacturing and testing of the 20,000-plus parts on each of its cars.

Photo credit: Steve Wiens

Photo credit: Steve Wiens

This week on the Microsoft Facebook page, we challenged fans to tweet an #8WordEssay about this photo, for a chance to win a Surface Pro 3 prize package. Join us on our page for more info on how to win.

This week on the Microsoft Facebook page, we challenged fans to tweet an #8WordEssay about this photo, for a chance to win a Surface Pro 3 prize package

This week on the Microsoft Facebook page, we challenged fans to tweet an #8WordEssay about this photo, for a chance to win a Surface Pro 3 prize package

Thanks for checking out this edition of Weekend Reading. Hope you’re enjoying summer’s last hurrah! See you next week!

Posted by Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff

Introducing the HTC One (M8) for Windows

Starting Tuesday, the HTC One (M8) for Windows, the first device to ship in the U.S. with the Windows Phone 8.1 Update, will be available exclusively through Verizon Wireless online and in stores.

It comes loaded with features such as Cortana, Live Folders and Action Center. It also has a bevy of HTC features, including the HTC BlinkFeed app, which is integrated into the Live Tile layout and provides quick access to curated news from social networks.

The HTC One (M8) for Windows is made from a single block of aluminum, which translates to no gaps in its construction as the brushed metal frame wraps around the entire body of the phone. It has a 5-inch Super LCD3 1080p HD display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3.

But it’s also got a lot going for it on the inside. Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core 2.3GHz processor, it’s got 32GB of storage with expandable storage with up to 128GB with a MicroSD card, and if that’s not enough, there’s another 15GB of storage online with OneDrive for free.

To find out more about the HTC One (M8) for Windows, read the HTC press release and head over to Blogging Windows.

Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff

Quiet riot: Dave Campbell and the art of humble disruption

Disruptive. According to Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary, it’s the adjective form of disrupt, which means to break apart or throw into disorder. But in the tech industry, it’s become the buzz word for transformation, tearing something down in order to create something new and better. 

Spend time talking with Dave Campbell, Chief Technical Officer of Microsoft’s Cloud and Services organization and one of the company’s elite corps of Technical Fellows and you understand why. “People have to recognize that there’s a need for disruption,” said Campbell. “There comes a time when you have to make a shift and take a run at the new world.”

Campbell’s approach to work reminds me of a moment in the film “Apollo 13,” when several NASA technicians need to quickly design a carbon dioxide absorber to save the lives of three astronauts trapped in a damaged capsule. One technician turns to everyone assembled in the room and declares, “We’ve got to find a way to make this [a square canister] fit into the hole for this [a round canister] using nothing but that [the contents of mismatched pieces spread across a table].”

It’s kind of a fitting analogy for the disruption that Campbell’s accomplished in his career, including 20 years at Microsoft. “Dave thinks sideways,” said Dean Hachamovitch, Chief Data Strategist at Microsoft. “Whereas the rest of us look at a problem the same way, he always manages to find another angle.”

That’s why when Bill Gates stepped down as CEO at Microsoft, he anointed 22 Technical Fellows, including Campbell. While a huge honor, Campbell jokingly dismisses it as coming from some process in a smoke-filled room. “Dave is all about the business, the customer and the outcome,” said Ted Kummert, who as former chief of the SQL Server team used to be Campbell’s manager and now remains a good friend.”

Read the full profile at microsoft.com/stories.

Weekend Reading: Aug. 15th Edition — Xbox ignites gamescom, Satya Nadella names Hackathon winner, gets ice bath

We soared this week with big news for gamers, the naming of Hackathon and Microsoft Ventures winners, and the announcement of a high-flying partnership with a major airline. Read on!

It was wall-to-wall Xbox at gamescom 2014, Europe’s biggest video games expo. The platform showcased its stellar portfolio of exclusive games, while inviting the next generation of gamers to play with a family of bundles featuring some of the hottest games of the year like “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare,” “Sunset Overdrive,” and “FIFA 15.”

The Eye Gaze team beat out 3,000 other projects to be crowned the first ever //oneweek Hackathon grand prize winner. They got an audience with Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella and momentum for their effort to use Surface 3, Kinect and other Microsoft technologies to give independence to people with disabilities. The Eye Gaze team set their sights on helping Steve Gleason, a former pro football player who is living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Ice Bucket Challenge

And if the Hackathon wasn’t exciting enough, Microsoft technology was also showcased this week in an announcement that Saudi Airlines is using Microsoft SQL Server 2012, Power BI for Office 365, Windows Server 2012 and Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 to improve the way it does business. Said Muhammad Albakri, Saudi Airlines’ executive vice president of finance: “For us, the new BI solution is like turning on the headlights of a car on a curvy, dark road.”

Speaking of business, Microsoft Ventures named 10 companies to participate in its first Accelerator, a partnership with American Family Insurance that aims to give start-ups a leg-up by providing them the mentorship, tools and connections necessary to grow and succeed. The companies will focus on home innovation using the Internet of Things.

In other news, the Microsoft Devices Group unveiled the Nokia 130, an ultra-affordable mobile phone designed to introduce millions of people to new digital experiences. The phone, which will be available in select markets — including China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and Vietnam — has a built-in video and music player, 1.8-inch color display and up to 36 days of standby battery life.

In Apps this week, keep track of your friends using Swarm, the latest installment from the folks who brought you Foursquare. Or, to connect virtually, try GroupMe. Because it’s that time of year, again (already), the Windows Store has a back-to-school collection of apps including online education tool Khan Academy; MathBoard, number fun for school-age children; and Bamboo Paper, which turns your Windows 8 tablet into a paper notebook so you can write, sketch and doodle to your heart’s content. For the older set, there’s Varsity Quad to help you prep for— and ace — those exams. Also, just in time for fall, the redesigned NFL Fantasy Football app for Windows Phone. If you’re more game-show than “game-day,” check out “Jeopardy!” for Windows PCs and tablets.

jeopardy

This week on the Microsoft Facebook page, we challenged fans to tweet an #8WordEssay about this photo, for a chance to win a Dell Venue 8 Pro prize pack. Join us on our page for more info on how to win.

CMG_8WordEssay

From Snaps, Mount Everest pierces the cloud ceiling in this shot by National Geographic photographer Stephen Alvarez, taken from the summit of Kala Pattar, Nepal using a Lumia 1520. New heights indeed.

everest

Wishing you some high-flying fun this weekend. See you back here, next Friday.

Posted by Aimee Riordan
Microsoft News Center Staff

Saudi Airlines flies to new heights with business intelligence solution from Microsoft

Saudi Airlines, one of the largest airlines in the Middle East, has chosen Microsoft SQL Server 2012, Power BI for Office 365, Windows Server 2012 and Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 to analyze, visualize and share data in a unified way.

By using this Microsoft technology to implement a business intelligence (BI) solution, the airline forecasts better business visibility, more engaged employees and savings of millions of dollars per year.

The move also provides insights into subsidiaries such as Saudi Cargo, Saudi Catering and Saudi Ground Services, while uniting business information spanning multiple airline systems.

“Before we worked with Microsoft, we had scattered information everywhere. We had many different business intelligence and incentive solutions, separate training and no standard platform to run all the environments,” said Muhammad Albakri, Saudi Airlines’ executive vice president of finance. “For us, the new BI solution is like turning on the headlights of a car on a curvy, dark road.”

The airline has already been able to pull disparate data together from multiple sources for analysis, and provide dynamic dashboards, enterprise reports and customer reports enabling executives to view critical subsets of information.

The company is also using a Windows 8.1 app to provide a consolidated view of the data for its highly mobile workforce.

To find out more about how Saudi Airlines’ move to a Microsoft solution is improving its business, check out the press release.

Aimee Riordan
Microsoft News Center Staff

 

 

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella reveals grand prize winner of //oneweek Hackathon: Ability Eye Gaze

On Wednesday, the Ability Eye Gaze team, which won the Grand Prize in the first-ever companywide Hacakthon, were given the chance to dump a bucket of ice water on Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

On Wednesday, the Ability Eye Gaze team, which won the Grand Prize in Microsoft’s first-ever companywide Hacakthon, was given the chance to dump a bucket of ice water on CEO Satya Nadella as part of an effort to raise awareness around amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS.) (Photo credit: Scott Eklund, Red Box Pictures.)

Their vision was simple, said Matthew Mack, one of the leaders of the //oneweek Hackathon team known as Ability Eye Gaze.

“Until there is a cure for ALS, technology is a cure.”

The Eye Gaze team had set out to do a project to help Steve Gleason, a former pro football player who is living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Gleason’s foundation aims to raise awareness about ALS, as well as to give others living with it the “leading edge technology, equipment and services” they need. The project united two dozen researchers, engineers, designers, program managers and media pros from across Microsoft, and was one of the 3,000-plus teams that participated in Microsoft’s first-ever global Hackathon. The team aimed to use Surface 3, Kinect and other Microsoft technologies to give independence to people with disabilities.

Clear, powerful—and, according to their colleagues and the company’s senior leaders, the most transformative idea to come out of the Hackathon.

On Wednesday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced that Ability Eye Gaze was the global Hackathon’s grand prize winner. He also recognized nine other winners, who were selected by their fellow employees’ votes and by Microsoft’s senior leadership team.

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The Ability Eye Gaze team was the Grand Prize Winner of Microsoft’s first-ever companywide Hackathon. Matthew Mack accepted a trophy on behalf of his team from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on Wednesday. (Photo credit: Microsoft event staff.)

After accepting “an amazing piece of hardware” from Nadella, Mack gave a heartfelt speech on what his team worked so hard to try to accomplish: bringing independence to the thousands living with ALS.

According to the ALS Association, an American dies of ALS every 90 minutes, he said.

“Every 90 minutes,” Mack said. “But we have the ability to give them quality in life, and that’s something that I’m super proud of, and I’m super proud of the team that’s won this because with Satya’s help we can take the robotics, we can take the Eye Gaze technology, and we can move that into mainstream, and we can give people a quality of life so that they can realize their independence.”

On early Wednesday morning, Gleason challenged Nadella to participate in what’s known as an ALS ice bucket challenge via Twitter, and Nadella readily accepted. For those who may not be familiar with it, the ALS ice bucket challenge is a social media movement wherein people post videos of themselves dumping a bucket of ice water over their heads. Once they’re sopping wet with cold water, they then challenge others to either do the same or make a donation to an organization dedicated to fighting ALS, and that’s just what Nadella did.

“The thing I’m really excited about is what Steve and the team have done to raise awareness for ALS,” Nadella said. “Now, let me take this opportunity to challenge Jeff Bezos and Larry Page to take their own ice bucket challenge. And let me tell you again from personal experience, it’s better to have your head in the clouds than under a bucket of ice.”

Jenny Lay-Flurrie, a member of the Ability Eye Gaze team, was impressed with Nadella’s willingness to accept Gleason’s challenge and help fight a disease that, according to the ALS Association, affects nearly 30,000 people in the U.S. alone.

“Satya being open to getting involved and using his profile for this cause will have an enormous impact in terms of raising awareness around a disease that isn’t yet very well understood,” she said.

Jennifer Zhang ,Vidya Srinivasan, Rekha Nair, Matthew Mack, Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Nancy Crowell, Henry Soto, Gershon Parent of the “Ability Eye Gaze” team were the Grand Prize Winners of the inaugural //oneweek Hackathon. (Photo credit: Scott Eklund, Red Box Pictures.)

Jennifer Zhang ,Vidya Srinivasan, Rekha Nair, Matthew Mack, Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Nancy Crowell, Henry Soto, Gershon Parent of the “Ability Eye Gaze” team were the Grand Prize Winners of the inaugural //oneweek Hackathon. (Photo credit: Scott Eklund, Red Box Pictures.)

All told, more than 12,000 employees registered for the Hackathon from 230 cities and 80 countries. After a two-day frenzy of hacking, caffeine and (hopefully) a little sleep, employees submitted more than 62,000 votes.

“I’m inspired by the ingenuity of people across Microsoft and the projects that I saw. I believe Microsoft is the place where smart, curious people can do their best work and the Hackathon embodied that spirit,” Nadella said.

The Hackathon and //oneweek teams are already talking about what’s next and how to build on the momentum, said Linda Thackeray, group manager for Engineering Excellence.

One of the many benefits of the hackathon is a huge “idea hub,” she added. “From project teams to executive leaders, we are seeing conversations pop up around project ideas to take them to the next level.”

Hackathon winners are announced at Microsoft on Monday August 11, 2014.

Suds Gopaladesikan, Tiffany Sanders, Adam Krett, Ben Williams, Alex Kelly, Karen Smith, Arturo Lucatero, Siva Harinath, Femila Anilkumar of the “Fit and Smart Kids” Hackathon project are all focused on using technology to help fight obesity in children. (Photo credit: Scott Eklund, Red Box Pictures.)

The event amounted to Microsoft’s ultimate suggestion box, said Jeff Ramos, senior director of community outreach for Engineering Excellence.

“There were so many great ideas in hack projects ranging from new product ideas to ways to improve the way we work,” Ramos said. “Everyone showcased their passion to build a better company.”

There were two winners from each of the five categories: Business or Enterprise; Consumers; Developers, IT Pros or Partners; Education, Government or Nonprofits; Microsoft and its employees.  Hackathon teams were challenged to create something new that customers want and businesses need; to imagine how to improve existing products, services or internal functions to generate greater impact; or to adapt processes, tools or systems that enable the company to be more agile.

Eye Gaze’s Tammy King, an eight-year Microsoft veteran, has participated in hackathons before. “But nothing has been as cool as this,” she said. “We think this is something that won’t just improve our products but will help society. We have the ability to change lives. It’s an honor.”

Like the Eye Gaze team, many of the winners expressed an eagerness to drive their ideas forward. The team behind Fit and Smart Kids, who hacked on a techy solution to tackle childhood obesity, plans to literally push themselves forward. In honor of the 644 votes they received, they vowed to collectively hike, bike, walk, or jog 664 miles.

Meanwhile, the team behind A Line in the Sand intends to pitch their manifesto to end sexism in video games to leaders at Xbox and Microsoft Games Studio, said Manuel Tenorio, a manager for Enterprise Commerce IT.

Tenorio loves video games. So does his wife, a huge “Skyrim” fan. (“We’re a geeky family,” he said.) They plan to introduce gaming to their seven-year-old son and four-year-old daughter, but they’re concerned about how women are represented in the vast majority of video games.

Hackathon winners are announced at Microsoft on Monday August 11, 2014.

Manuel Tenorio celebrates being named a //oneweek Hackathon finalist. Tenorio is a member of the “A Line in the Sand: Ending Sexism in Videogames” project. (Photo credit: Scott Eklund, Red Box Pictures.)

Similar concerns brought together the other members of his team, who were scattered across the U.S., the United Kingdom and Brazil. They had never met, but they were all gamers who were convinced “Microsoft could draw a line in the sand and say there was a better way,” Cervantes said.

For him, the power of employees collaborating across teams was the key takeaway of the Hackathon.

“We have an amazing set of untapped talent in the company,” he said. “We can accomplish great things when we come together.”

Jacob Siegel & Jeff Meisner
Microsoft News Center Staff

Updates coming to Xbox One include more social features, new ways to watch TV

Starting in the early access program later this month, new social features making it easier for gamers to connect with their friends and new ways to access their TV and entertainment throughout their homes will be coming to Xbox One, writes Major Nelson in a blog post.

Among the updates:

  • New “Friends” section. Users can see at a glance what’s going on with their friends. They can stay up-to-date with their current activities and the most popular games their friends are playing, and there’s a Gamerscore leaderboard to see who has improved their Gamerscore over the last 30 days.
  • Snap Center. Favorite features in the Xbox 360 guide are coming to Xbox One in a way that’s now truly side-by-side with games, Major Nelson writes. “Messages, friends, parties, and achievements will all be available in the new Snap Center, providing a seamless way to switch back and forth without having to leave a game.”
  • Threaded Messages. The new Messages app features threaded messages with the full conversation history – including embedded links to Game DVR clips – that can be viewed without interrupting gameplay.
  • Stream TV to SmartGlass. Available in markets receiving the Xbox Digital TV Tuner, Xbox One owners will be able to stream their TV across their home network to their smartphones and tablets using the Xbox SmartGlass app. “They can also pause, play and rewind as well as change channels, without interrupting gameplay on the Xbox One. This will work for SmartGlass apps on Windows, iOS, and Android,” he writes.

To learn about these updates and others, head over to Xbox Wire and to Major Nelson’s blog.

Suzanne Choney
Microsoft News Center Staff