Category Archives: Microsoft Blog

Microsoft Blog

Microsoft announces teacher-inspired updates for Windows, Office, ‘Minecraft’

At Microsoft, we’re all in on education!

Our company mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. In education, it’s to empower every student. Today, we’re proud to share the latest on what’s coming for Back-to-School 2016/2017.

Introducing Microsoft Classroom and Microsoft Forms, OneNote Class Notebook now with Learning Management System (LMS) integration, new experiences for Windows 10 and the dawn of “Minecraft: Education Edition” – Get ready!

First, we are announcing all new education features coming in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, features specifically inspired by teachers and focused on students. 

Faster, easier set-up:

Shared devices in the classroom are the norm – in the U.S., nearly 90 percent of schools report using shared devices. We also know that nearly 50 percent of teachers serve as their own tech support in their classroom. Until now, setting these devices up has been complex and getting students productive often takes too long.

With the Windows 10 Anniversary Update we are introducing a ”Set Up School PCs” app that allows teachers to set up a device themselves in a simple three-step process – in minutes. We’ve also made significant performance improvements for affordable devices. We expect the average first login to take 26 seconds, with subsequent logins of 6 seconds when the student uses that machine again.

Secure assessments:

Testing is going digital — teachers consistently tell us they want a simple way to set up quizzes or standardized tests digitally. The Windows 10 Anniversary Update brings a new ‘Take a Test’ app – simple and more secure standardized testing for the whole classroom or the whole school, where teachers or IT can lock down the testing environment, or enable simple quizzing.

Education-ready Windows Store:

Nearly 60 percent of teachers purchase and load apps themselves. With the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, the Windows Store will enable teachers to access thousands of apps, and schools can purchase and deploy them in bulk.

Free upgrade and affordable devices:

More and more, educators are asking us about affordable devices. We have a great portfolio of affordable, durable and innovative Windows 10 devices starting at $199, designed for the demands of education.

So you can see, the Windows 10 Anniversary Update brings a huge range of education-specific features that teachers and students are going to love. Learn even more about these new updates, and more, over on the Windows blog!

education, Windows 10

Second, we are announcing some big improvements to Office 365 Education.

Today we are announcing Microsoft Classroom – a new experience in Office 365 Education. Microsoft Classroom is designed to be the one place students and teachers come to manage their day – from Class Notebooks, assignments and grades to conversations, calendars and to announcements!

We’re piloting this with Omaha Public Schools in Nebraska. Let me just share with you what they had to say . . .

“It simplifies our digital classroom management and frees up our teachers so they can spend more time with students and less time managing administrative access to class materials.” – Rob Dickson, Executive Director, Information Management Services of Omaha Public Schools.

Today we are also announcing Microsoft School Data Sync (SDS) – a powerful complement for Microsoft Classroom. SDS connects Microsoft Classroom to a School Information System (SIS), so teacher, student and classes information is automatically populated in Microsoft Classroom and OneNote Class Notebooks. School Data Sync will be included in Office 365 Education.  Think of it as a super simple process that quickly provisions a set of classes and rosters from many School Information Systems already used.

Also being announced: Microsoft Forms – a simple way to quickly assess student progress and get feedback with easy-to-create surveys and quizzes. It’s in public preview starting today for Office 365 Education here.

OneNote Class Notebooks are the heart of our education experience and they just keep getting better and better. We have seen incredible momentum – with millions of student notebooks created just this school year – and currently running over 10,000 a day!

To hear one educator describe it: “It’s your whole classroom (lesson plans, materials, assignments and student work) in a digital binder with tools for communication and collaboration!”

We’re also announcing Class Notebook assignment and grading integration is now available with more than 25 Learning Management System partners – including leaders like Canvas, Edmodo, Schoology, Brightspace and Moodle. Learn more here.

We’re really excited about all of these improvements for Office 365 Education coming for the new school year! Learn more about all of the updates to Office happening for education – check out the Office blog here.

education, Class Notebook

Finally, we’ve got some great news about “Minecraft: Education Edition! June begins an early access program of “Minecraft: Education Edition.” It will be available for any educator to download and try for free on Windows 10 and OS X El Capitan. 

This program is a great way for educators and administrators who are interested in “Minecraft: Education Edition” to give it a test run in the summer months and give us more feedback and suggestions.

If you are new to “Minecraft” in the classroom, check out for resources to help prepare, including lesson plans and a new “Minecraft” mentors program to connect with amazing teachers already using “Minecraft.”

What’s the next step? Upgrade your devices to Windows 10 or OS X El Capitan, and sign up for an Office 365 Education account.

To learn more about “Minecraft: Education Edition” and the upcoming early access program, check out our blog.

education, Minecraft, Minecraft Education Edition

The culture at Microsoft is customer-obsessed and we’ve been hard at work listening to teachers and students. We hope you love what’s coming this summer and we look forward to your continued feedback and hearing about the amazing things happening in your classroom. Let me know what you think on Twitter – @microsoft_edu @tony_prophet #MSFTEDU.


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Microsoft’s inspired new workspaces boost creativity and collaboration


Buildings 16 and 17 are two of the biggest at Microsoft headquarters – sturdy, brick-and-glass tributes to the practical 1980s, when the company was focused more on manifesting Bill Gates’ vision to put a computer on every desk and in every home than on the architectural prowess of its campus.

Inside, however, is a different story. There is light, air and art. There are new, retooled work spaces and vibrant common areas. Once fortresses of winding corridors, fluorescent lighting and private offices, the buildings were recently gutted and radically redesigned not just to be more interesting and modern, but to offer employees an unprecedented range of ways to get things done. In the parlance of the zip code, Buildings 16 and 17 have been totally hacked.

After all, it would be a non-starter for Microsoft to have the goal of empowering everyone on the planet to achieve more without trying to do the same for its own employees.

The buildings sport all the familiar hallmarks of a modern tech company – the plethora of free beverages, the ping pong and pool tables, the gourmet café, the standing desks. But from there, the offerings get more unusual.

For starters, Building 16 and 17 are office-free. Designed with the idea that there is no one best way to get work done, there are an unparalleled range of working environments. Employees and even executives work together in large, shared rooms called “neighborhoods.” They roam high-ceilinged hallways and stop for impromptu meetings in angular atriums designed to capture and perpetuate light. They head into large, glass team rooms to collaborate, or into one of the many focus rooms or cozy alcoves for privacy. They yell and whoop in an Xbox game room, and take their shoes off to quietly recharge in the company’s first-ever No Tech Lounge.

“It’s a new look for the new Microsoft,” said Jochen Liesche, a business manager for the Data Platform group who helped with the redesign. “I think ultimately the physical space really represents the culture here. It’s almost as if the physical space is a proxy for the company’s mission and its culture,” he said.

Read the full story.

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First-ever Microsoft Envision showcases supermarket of the future, R3 partnership and Ecolab’s efforts to solve water shortages — Weekend Reading: April 8 edition

Weekend Reading returns with stories from the very first Microsoft Envision event, including a look at the supermarket of the future, a strategic partnership with R3 and a collaboration with Ecolab to find solutions to water shortages.

Microsoft’s new flagship event for business leaders, Envision, began Monday in New Orleans with more than 6,000 leaders from 70 countries attending. It featured a keynote from CEO Satya Nadella and a guest appearance from astronaut Captain Scott Kelly. The “red thread” that connected the keynote, the drill-down sessions and conversations on and off the expo floor was digital transformation, writes Chris Capossela, executive vice president and chief marketing officer.

Envision attendees saw how Italy’s biggest grocery cooperative is using futuristic technology to help shoppers return to the sociable days of open-air markets, where there were shopkeepers at every stall, ready to answer any question a customer might have about their wares. Coop Italia’s “supermarket of the future” concept replaces the tall shelves of a typical grocery with an airy layout, including easy-to-reach, tilted displays and informative screens at eye level. Motion sensors detect which product a shopper is pointing or looking at, triggering visual displays of information such as ingredients, potential allergens and the origin of the food. The design uses Kinect sensors, Microsoft Azure and other Microsoft technologies. Read more on the Transform blog.

Also Monday, Peggy Johnson, executive vice president for Business Development at Microsoft, announced a strategic partnership with R3, a consortium of leading banking institutions, to help turn the backbone of bitcoin, blockchain, into a revolutionary way for financial institutions to conduct transactions and track asset ownership securely and transparently.

Envision also shined a light on Ecolab, a $14 billion company that is a leading global provider of water, hygiene and energy technologies and services. It has partnered with Microsoft to use recent and future developments in cloud computing, applying cutting-edge technology to speed up how worldwide industries tackle water scarcity.

The Windows 10 Anniversary Update introduces Windows Ink – a family of end-to-end user experiences, platform advances and hardware capabilities. Windows Ink starts with the Windows Ink Workspace, coming this summer. Within it, Sticky Notes turns your handwriting into a powerful digital tool. You’ll also see a curated list of suggested apps in the Windows Ink Workspace to bring you the latest pen apps from the Windows Store, plus a dedicated link to all pen apps. Microsoft has also been working with third-party app developers to integrate simultaneous pen and touch, an example of which is shown in the video above with Adobe Illustrator. Head over to Building Apps for Windows to find out more about Windows Ink.

The App of the Week, “Quantum Break,” isn’t just a video game, it’s also a live action show featuring Shawn Ashmore as the hero, Jack Joyce; Aidan Gillen as his nemesis Paul Serene; and Dominic Monaghan as Jack’s genius brother William. In the aftermath of a split second of destruction that fractures time, two people have gained extraordinary abilities. One of them travels through time and becomes fixated on controlling this power. The other uses these new abilities to try to correct the timeline. Read more about it on the Windows Experience Blog.

Also check out the newest Red Stripe Deals for sales on six Windows 10 apps and games.

This week on the Microsoft Facebook and Instagram channels, we discovered how Temenos has transformed cloud-based banking by providing millions access to microfinance. With the Microsoft cloud, Temenos can reach clients from any location and empower them with opportunities for business growth and professional development.

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

Posted by Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff

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Build 2016: Conversational intelligence, new innovations for Windows 10 and cloud tools for all developers — Weekend Reading: April 1 edition

Welcome to the Build 2016 edition of Weekend Reading, highlighting all the news from Microsoft’s annual developer’s conference this week.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella outlined the company’s vision to help developers embrace a new era of conversational intelligence, with additions to the Cortana Intelligence Suite and new cloud services and toolkits to help us understand the world around us and create intelligent, helpful bots.

“As an industry, we are on the cusp of a new frontier that pairs the power of natural human language with advanced machine intelligence,” Nadella said. “At Microsoft, we call this Conversations as a Platform, and it builds on and extends the power of the Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and Windows platforms to empower developers everywhere.”

The Cortana Intelligence Suite – the new name for the Cortana Analytics Suite – can transform lives, with a prime example being Seeing AI, an app in development to help people with visual impairment understand their surroundings.

Additions to the Cortana suite include Microsoft Cognitive Services, a collection of intelligence application programming interfaces (APIs) that allow systems to see, hear, speak, understand and interpret our needs with natural communication. Also new is the Microsoft Bot Framework, which helps developers build intelligent bots that allow users to chat in natural language on many platforms. Both additions are in preview.

Microsoft also announced at Build the Skype Bot Platform, which allows developers to create bots that leverage Skype’s many ways to communicate, including text, voice, video and 3D interactive characters.

Terry Myerson, Microsoft executive vice president of Windows and Devices Group, shared the company’s next chapter to create more personal computing, with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update and new capabilities for the Universal Windows Platform.

The Windows 10 Anniversary Update features Windows Ink, which lets you handwrite on your device and create sticky notes. The update includes a proactive Cortana that can guide you even when your device is locked. And it has new Windows Hello features that extend the security of Windows 10 to multiple devices and Microsoft Edge.

“With Windows 10 now running on over 270 million active devices, we’re celebrating with our fans by delivering the Windows 10 Anniversary Update,” Myerson said. “This significant update will help you interact with your Windows 10 devices as naturally as you interact with the world around you — using your pen, presence and voice.”

New developer capabilities for Windows 10 include full access to Cortana’s intelligence, and new APIs and tools to integrate Windows Ink, Windows Hello and other Windows 10 innovations into apps. And Microsoft HoloLens Development Edition shipped, allowing developers to start building the future of holographic computing. Plus a new Xbox Dev Mode turns any Xbox One into a dev tool, enabling anyone to develop for the living room.

On Thursday at Build, Scott Guthrie, Microsoft executive vice president of the Cloud and Enterprise Group, announced new tools and resources for developers to tap into the cloud’s possibilities.

“Today, we made targeting every device and platform a lot easier by making Xamarin available to every Visual Studio developer for free, including the free Visual Studio Community Edition,” Guthrie wrote in his blog post.

“We are also making available a free Xamarin Studio Community Edition for OS X. Developers worldwide can now easily create apps using an end-to-end mobile development solution – joining companies like Slack, Pinterest, Alaska Airlines and more.”


BMW Connected

Guthrie also announced new Azure services to help developers address operational realities and take advantage of emerging trends, including the Internet of Things and microservices. BMW demonstrated how it’s using Azure, with the launch of its new digital mobility app, BMW Connected, which is based on a flexible platform the automaker built using Azure.

Also on Thursday, Qi Lu, Microsoft executive vice president of the Applications and Services Group, highlighted how developers can use the Office platform to create new business opportunities. Office developers can now build apps and place them into Word, Excel and PowerPoint ribbons. And on the Build stage, Starbucks showed off an Outlook add-in that enables people to send Starbucks e-gifts within Outlook and schedule meetings at Starbucks locations.

For the closing keynote, Steven Guggenheimer, Microsoft corporate vice president of Developer eXperience and chief evangelist, showed how partners are innovating with Azure, Office and Windows. And actor Kevin Hart weighed in with a hilarious video on how everyone wants to be a developer, highlighting Muzik LLC’s software development kit that turns headphones into a platform.

For more wrap-ups of Build, check out the Top 10 ways Build rocked it for developers on Day One and Day Two.

And finally, we heard from Nadella, Myerson, Guthrie and Lu across the Microsoft social communities as they announced the latest Microsoft updates at Build.

Thanks for reading and see you next week!

Vanessa Ho
Microsoft News Center Staff

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Microsoft Build: The top 10 reasons Day 2 rocked the developer world

On Thursday, Microsoft unveiled more technology and innovations that help every developer easily and simply build intelligent apps and services. You can find out more with our top 10 list of why Day 2 of Build rocked it for developers.

For starters, at No. 10, Skype me, baby: The new Skype for Business App SDK and Skype Web SDK allow companies to integrate Skype calls directly within their Web or device offering.

Read the full list, and get more details from the event at the Microsoft Build news site.

Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff

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BMW releases new digital mobility experience based on platform using Microsoft Azure

Imagine a future in which a personal travel assistant looks over your schedule, checks traffic for you, tells you when to leave for an appointment, ferrets out parking spaces and alerts people of your arrival time — all while learning your driving patterns to get more helpful over time.

That assistant will be BMW Connected, whose first version made its debut Thursday at Build 2016, Microsoft’s developer conference in San Francisco.

“Mobility needs are unique and personal and a very important aspect of our everyday life,” says Thom Brenner, BMW Group vice president of Digital Life. “We are really focused on how we can integrate our offerings smoothly and seamlessly into the digital life of our customers.”

Powered by the Open Mobility Cloud, which is based on Microsoft Azure and available for iOS, BMW Connected is part of the automaker’s vision for the “future of mobility,” which includes digital services, automated driving and assistance, and interiors designed for digital seamlessness. BMW built the Open Mobility Cloud, a new flexible, scalable platform, using Microsoft Azure technologies and tools.

Read the story on the Transform blog.

Vanessa Ho
Microsoft News Center Staff

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Build 2016: Announcing tomorrow’s cloud innovations for today’s developers

Every business and industry is being transformed by the cloud – and as cloud speed, scale and agility continue to increase, so too does what’s possible using cloud services. Imagine a dairy farmer who can improve his cows’ milk production by hooking them up to monitoring sensors. Or a hospital that can auto-monitor hygiene practices to make it a safer place. Or a car that can alert you to traffic and save you hassle on the way to work. All this is happening today, thanks to exponentially increasing amounts of data, and new ways to analyze this data for better business insights and connect it to a growing number of devices.

But helping businesses evolve to the next generation of cloud computing isn’t easy on developers. The pressure to innovate faster falls squarely on their shoulders, tasking them with building applications that can process and analyze data at cloud speed, while targeting any device or platform. Today at Build, our message is simple: We’re here to take the pressure off. With unparalleled scale via 30 worldwide regions, Microsoft Azure is the best environment for developers to easily build intelligent applications – across any device or OS.

Today, we made targeting every device and platform a lot easier by making Xamarin available to every Visual Studio developer for free, including the free Visual Studio Community Edition. We are also making available a free Xamarin Studio Community Edition for OS X. Developers worldwide can now easily create apps using an end-to-end mobile development solution – joining companies like Slack, Pinterest, Alaska Airlines and more. To enable even more choice and flexibility for developers, we announced a commitment to open source Xamarin’s runtime, libraries and command line tools as part of the .NET Foundation. Both the Xamarin SDK and Mono will be available under the MIT License.

Xamarin capabilities and services will also be added to Microsoft DevOps and Enterprise development tools offerings, providing a comprehensive solution that spans every phase of the mobile development cycle.

With the combination of Xamarin and Azure App Service for rich mobile backends, Microsoft is helping developers embrace the next generation of app development – but it’s only one piece of the puzzle. Developers also need to take advantage of the data explosion to build more intelligent, predictive apps, while ensuring those apps stay connected across a growing number of devices. Today, we announced several new innovations to help.

First, we announced a preview of Azure Functions, extending Azure’s market-leading application platform with new serverless compute for event-driven solutions. Functions lets developers easily handle on-demand tasks that respond to events, common in Web and mobile applications, IoT and big data scenarios. Working across Azure and third-party services, it enables developers to write functions in a variety of languages, such as JavaScript, C#, Python and PHP, with the ability to automatically scale out to meet demand, only charging for the time a function runs. And with an open source runtime, developers will be able run Functions anywhere – on Azure, in their datacenters or on other clouds –taking flexibility and choice a step further.

We also announced easier ways for developers to embrace the Internet of Things to connect data and devices for greater innovation. For example, we now have Azure IoT Starter Kits available for purchase. With development boards, actuators, sensors and easy user-friendly tutorials, now anyone with Windows or Linux experience – whether a student, inventor, device maker, hobbyist or developer – can quickly build IoT prototypes inexpensively. Once a prototype is ready for full-scale deployment, these users can leverage all of Azure’s comprehensive IoT offerings already on the market. In addition, we announced the Azure IoT Gateway SDK, along with device management in Azure IoT Hub – further easing the path to IoT by connecting legacy devices and sensors to the Internet without having to replace existing infrastructure, and managing these devices at scale via a standards-based approach. Using Azure IoT technology, customers like Schneider Electric have connected more than 3 million devices this year alone, transforming them from a traditional electric company to a modern, connected, global leader in sustainable energy management.

Connecting devices and data through IoT is critical for developers – but so is ingesting, storing, processing and analyzing that data. To help developers help their customers get insights from data we announced a preview of Power BI Embedded, which allows developers to embed fully interactive reports and visualizations in any customer-facing application, on any device.  Customers can choose from a broad range of Power BI data visualizations that come out of the box, or easily build custom visualizations for their unique applications. To help developers scale it all while maximizing choice and flexibility, we also announced today that applications can now communicate with the scalable NoSQL service DocumentDB, using existing Apache License MongoDB APIs and drivers. This extends the reach of DocumentDB, a proven service that enables companies like NextGames, makers of the multi-player Walking Dead video game run on Azure, to handle 75 billion requests per day.

Helping developers embrace new app models in a cloud-first world is a priority, especially with the growing demand to build highly scalable apps that are always-on and agile. In a 24×7 world, businesses cannot afford to have apps down for maintenance. Increasingly, developers are turning to microservices, independent components that work together to deliver an application’s overall functionality, to help address these business requirements.

Today we announced the general availability of Azure Service Fabric, our microservices application platform, to help developers design apps and services with always-on availability and scale. This battle-tested platform has been used for years as the foundation for Microsoft cloud services like Azure SQL Database, Azure Document DB, Cortana and Skype for Business. Features like automated health-based upgrades and rollbacks, support for stateful and stateless microservices, and deep Visual Studio integration make Service Fabric a compelling choice. We also announced previews of Service Fabric for Windows Server, for deploying on-premises and on other clouds, and Service Fabric for Linux and Java APIs – extending scale, availability and agility to developers everywhere.

From intelligent data and machine learning advancements, to IOT innovations and microservices offerings, Microsoft is helping developers build applications for the cloud realities of today, and the cloud evolution of tomorrow. We’re in a unique position to do this, as the only cloud provider that supports every organization and developer – from core infrastructure services, to platform services and tools, to SaaS – with the flexibility to build and run apps in any language across any platform. Today at Build, I am humbled to have the opportunity to share our innovations with developers – and hear firsthand their feedback so we can continually shape, deliver and improve the offerings that will make them more productive and successful. Together with our customers, we’re building the next generation of the cloud to achieve more.

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Microsoft Build: The top 10 reasons Day 1 rocked it for developers

Build 2016, developers

On Wednesday, Microsoft unveiled technology and innovations that help every developer easily and simply build intelligent apps and services. You can find out more with our top 10 list of why Day 1 of Build rocked it for developers.

For starters, at No. 10, the future is here now: Microsoft HoloLens Development Edition shipped!

Read the full list, and get more details from the event at the Microsoft Build news site.

Suzanne Choney
Microsoft News Center Staff

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Learning from Tay’s introduction

As many of you know by now, on Wednesday we launched a chatbot called Tay. We are deeply sorry for the unintended offensive and hurtful tweets from Tay, which do not represent who we are or what we stand for, nor how we designed Tay. Tay is now offline and we’ll look to bring Tay back only when we are confident we can better anticipate malicious intent that conflicts with our principles and values.

I want to share what we learned and how we’re taking these lessons forward.

For context, Tay was not the first artificial intelligence application we released into the online social world. In China, our XiaoIce chatbot is being used by some 40 million people, delighting with its stories and conversations. The great experience with XiaoIce led us to wonder: Would an AI like this be just as captivating in a radically different cultural environment? Tay – a chatbot created for 18- to 24- year-olds in the U.S. for entertainment purposes – is our first attempt to answer this question.

As we developed Tay, we planned and implemented a lot of filtering and conducted extensive user studies with diverse user groups. We stress-tested Tay under a variety of conditions, specifically to make interacting with Tay a positive experience. Once we got comfortable with how Tay was interacting with users, we wanted to invite a broader group of people to engage with her. It’s through increased interaction where we expected to learn more and for the AI to get better and better.

The logical place for us to engage with a massive group of users was Twitter. Unfortunately, in the first 24 hours of coming online, a coordinated attack by a subset of people exploited a vulnerability in Tay. Although we had prepared for many types of abuses of the system, we had made a critical oversight for this specific attack. As a result, Tay tweeted wildly inappropriate and reprehensible words and images. We take full responsibility for not seeing this possibility ahead of time. We will take this lesson forward as well as those from our experiences in China, Japan and the U.S. Right now, we are hard at work addressing the specific vulnerability that was exposed by the attack on Tay.

Looking ahead, we face some difficult – and yet exciting – research challenges in AI design. AI systems feed off of both positive and negative interactions with people. In that sense, the challenges are just as much social as they are technical. We will do everything possible to limit technical exploits but also know we cannot fully predict all possible human interactive misuses without learning from mistakes. To do AI right, one needs to iterate with many people and often in public forums. We must enter each one with great caution and ultimately learn and improve, step by step, and to do this without offending people in the process. We will remain steadfast in our efforts to learn from this and other experiences as we work toward contributing to an Internet that represents the best, not the worst, of humanity.

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Data-palooza with new Power BI features and SandDance, plus a teacher making a difference with Skype — Weekend Reading: March 25 edition

Welcome to Weekend Reading. It was a big week for data news: Several new Power BI features were announced at the Microsoft Insights Data Summit, and SandDance, a Microsoft Garage project that helps you visually explore data sets to find stories and extract insight, was released. We also met one of the many teachers who, with their students, are using Skype to help make the world a better place.

At the Microsoft Data Insights Summit March 22-23, several new Power BI features were introduced that boost enterprise readiness, deepen integration with Excel and enhance intelligent data exploration. Over the past year, Power BI’s community of users has been with us on “every step of our journey,” says James Phillips, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s business applications, platform and intelligence organization. Over the past year, he says, their feedback and input has led to adding more than 265 features to Power BI, which now has more than 5 million subscribers.

Data is more than just numbers; oh the stories it can tell. SandDance, a new Microsoft Garage project from Microsoft Research, helps unlock those stories. It uses a free Web and touch-based interface to help users dynamically navigate through complex data they upload into the tool. While data science experts will find that SandDance is a powerful tool, its ease of use can also give people who aren’t experts in data science or programming the ability to analyze information – and present it – in a way that is accessible to a wider audience.

Big help from a small town. Pennsylvania educator and Skype Master Teacher Michael Soskil was honored as one of 10 finalists for the Global Teacher Prize for his contributions to global citizenship. Through a Skype call with a sister school in a small Kenyan village in Africa, Soskil’s students learned of the village’s unsanitary water conditions that prevented students from going to school. Soskil’s class partnered with students in Kansas and Greece over Skype to help solve the problem and find solutions to provide clean drinking water, not only for the school, but also for many of the families in the village.

Computational thinking, 10 years later: In 2006, Jeannette M. Wing, a corporate vice president in charge of Microsoft’s core research labs, published a viewpoint entitled “Computational Thinking,” in which “I argued that the use of computational concepts, methods and tools would transform the very conduct of every discipline, profession and sector,” she wrote this week on the Microsoft Research Blog. Ten years later, Wing reflects on how much progress has been made in achieving that vision: “Computational thinking will be a fundamental skill used by everyone in the world by the middle of the 21st century,” she says. “By fundamental, I mean as fundamental as reading, writing and arithmetic.”

Jeannette Wing, Microsoft Research

Microsoft Corporate Vice President Jeannette Wing (Photography by Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures)

Windows Store Spring Sale, which continues through Monday, March 28, brings you big savings on hit games, music, popular TV shows and favorite movies. Among them is “Oxenfree,” available at 25 percent off for $14.99. A fun night with friends exploring a decommissioned military island unleashes an unexpected mystery. You’ll also find “Straight Outta Compton” at 33 percent off and a collection of No Doubt and Gwen Stefani albums for $6.99 or less. Also, be sure to check out the Windows Store Indie Game Spotlight, which showcases some of the most innovative titles coming from independent developers. Some favorites in this month’s set includes guild wars, World War I dogfights and Chuck the chimp.

This week on the Microsoft Instagram channel, we met Ada Lovelace, writer of the first machine algorithm and, to many, the world’s first computer programmer. As we continue this month’s celebration of women inventors, we highlight how they’ve changed the world, and continue to inspire future generations to #MakeWhatsNext.

Here’s the last piece of data from this edition of Weekend Reading: Thank you for reading! We look forward to seeing you next Friday; same time, same place.

Posted by Suzanne Choney
Microsoft News Center Staff

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