Category Archives: Microsoft Blog

Microsoft Blog

Flagship Lumia 830, two new phones, a phone update and accessories galore — that’s #morelumia

New additions to the Lumia family of smartphones, announced Thursday, will give users the choices they want, along with accessories that make using the phones even more of a snap, and an update that makes the devices more customizable still.

Microsoft shared the Lumia news during a webcast Thursday, Sept. 4. Among the announcements:

The flagship Lumia 830, the thinnest (8.5mm) and lightest (150g) Lumia yet. The phone has “serious photographic prowess,” according to the Converations blog, with a 10-megapixel PureView camera with ZEISS optics, Rich Recording, and the thinnest Optical Image Stabilization system we’ve ever crammed into a Lumia smartphone.”

The Lumia 830 has a 5-inch ClearBlack display with Curved Gorilla 3.0 glass, and runs a 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor with 16 GB of memory, which is expandable by 128 GB using a microSD card. It comes preloaded with Microsoft Office, Windows Phone 8.1 with Lumia Denim and 15 GB of OneDrive storage.

The Lumia 730 Dual SIM and Lumia 735 for selfie and Skype fans. Do you love to connect and share with your phone’s front-facing camera? Both of these quad-core smartphones have a stunning sleek design and are also imaging masters. The 5-megapixel front-facing camera boasts a focal length of 24mm, which means its wide-angle lens will capture more in the frame – that means more people and more background.

New accessories, including Microsoft Screen Sharing for Lumia phones. The screen-sharing adapter makes it really quick and easy to beam multimedia content from your Lumia to the big screen by connecting to an HDMI-enabled TV. You’ll be able to share movies, Xbox games, PowerPoint presentations, photos and more from your Lumia via NFC or Bluetooth.

Lumia Denim update. It will ship with the Lumia 830, Lumia 730 Dual SIM and Lumia 735, and roll out as an over-the-air update to all Lumia Windows Phone 8 smartphones this year. The update combines exclusive Lumia experiences with new features from the latest Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1.

As part of the Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1, Lumia owners will be able to enjoy Live Folders organization, Apps Corner customization, SMS merge and forwarding, and the ability to customize the snooze time within the Alarm app.

To learn more about all the exciting Lumia news, head over to the Conversations blog.

Suzanne Choney
Microsoft News Center Staff

For Bing’s Kevin White, red wine and data science are the perfect pairing

With upwards of 800 wineries, Washington state has emerged as the second-largest premium wine producer in the United States. Turning off a side street in an industrial area of sleepy Woodinville, I start to think the majority of these wineries might reside here, within a complex of storage depots referred to by locals as the “warehouse district.”

OK, so industrial concrete isn’t quite the image of vast farmlands and sprawling grapevines I envisioned on my way over. For that you’d have to travel to Eastern Washington, to Walla Walla and Horse Heaven Hills, places with the kinds of names you couldn’t make up if you tried. But I didn’t come here for the scenery. I came to meet Kevin White, Bing principal program manager lead and driving force behind the well-reviewed Kevin White Winery.

On paper, red wine and data mining hardly seem an appropriate pair. One goes with meats, the other with user experiences. But beneath the surface of alcohol and statistics, there’s a common running theme concerning an attention to detail.

Yet somehow that doesn’t do justice to White and his world. In his case, there’s another current coursing through his veins: obsession. “With data mining, you’re obsessed about understanding how people use products so that we can deliver the best possible experience,” said White. “With wine, you have to be obsessed about everything. From the quality of the product, to what the label looks like, to how are you going to sell it, to ‘Oh my God – can I sell it?’”

We’re in the cellar at Baer Winery now, where White makes his Syrah and Grenache-blended wines. “Here, let me show you around,” said my mild-mannered host. We’re surrounded by rows of French oak barrels stacked floor to the ceiling. While not a large enough space to get lost in, you might wish you could dive inside one of his barrels. For that’s where the vino chemistry occurs, converting grape sugar to CO2 and alcohol.

In some ways, White’s story, soft-spoken data scientist turned chemist, reads like a “Breaking Bad” episode. The other Mr. White, aka Heisenberg, was also a converted chemist, albeit in a more dangerous way. In that world, chances are I’d end up as an ingredient inside the large metallic de-stemmer or grape press off to my left. Fortunately, my subject’s obsession does not take such a dark side. But just to be sure, I quiz those who know him best.

Read the full profile at

Weekend Reading: Aug. 29th Edition – Surface Pro 3 now in 28 markets and Royal Caribbean provides 40,000 crew members with Windows tablets

This week, we’ve got stories on Surface Pro 3’s increased availability worldwide, Royal Caribbean Cruises going more high-tech by giving its crew Windows 8.1 tablets, and Bing in the Classroom’s lesson plans are back for a second school year.

Surface Pro 3 is now available in 25 additional markets around the world, bringing the total to 28 markets, including the United States, Canada and Japan. The 25 new markets are: Australia, Austria, Belgium, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Korea, Luxembourg, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand and the United Kingdom. The Surface Pro 3 Docking Station is available for pre-order, and will be generally available starting Sept. 12.


Windows 8.1 tablets are headed into the hands of Royal Caribbean’s 40,000 crew members, with those on the line’s newest ship, Quantum of the Seas, to be the first to get the 8-inch tablets built by HEXA for the cruise line. The tablets will include services such as Bing, Skype, Office 365 and OneDrive, and will provide a vital lifeline for ship staff to stay in touch with family members. Guests aboard the Quantum of the Seas will also be able to play games with friends around the world using Xbox One consoles, available for the first time on Royal Caribbean’s ships through Xbox Live and the ship’s unprecedented connectivity.

Royal Caribbean gives its crew members 40,000 Windows 8.1 tablets

As kids head back to school, Bing in the Classroom will be there, too. Since last fall, the program has published nearly 800 lessons plans that are paired with Bing’s stunning home page photos. When used with Bing in the Classroom’s ad-free search offering, the lesson plans enable students to practice critical thinking and search skills in an ad-free, safer and more private online environment.

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)

Just in time for football season, “Madden NFL 15” was released, along with a special bundle for Xbox One. For $399, you can get both the game and the Xbox One console, including wireless controller and a chat headset, with the bundle available at Microsoft retail stores and other select U.S. retailers. You also won’t want to miss the special events at Microsoft retail stores tied to the release of “Madden NFL 15,” as well as to “Destiny,” Bungie’s much-anticipated first-person shooter that will be out Sept. 9. Hands-on gameplay, prizes and free food are all part of the in-store celebrations.

Madden NFL 15, Weekend Reading

The Kinect sensor for Xbox One will become available as a standalone purchase starting Oct. 7. It will cost $149.99, and also come with “Dance Central Spotlight,” from developer Harmonix. The Kinect experience includes voice and gesture controls, biometric sign-in, instant personalization, instant scanning of QR codes and enhanced features only available with Kinect in games such as “Kinect Sports Rivals,” “Dead Rising 3,” “Project Spark” and more.

Kinect sensor, Xbox One, Weekend Reading

New Azure SQL Database service tiers with reduced pricing were announced for the database-as-a-service that gives customers greater price performance and business continuity for cloud apps.There also will be a new performance level, hourly billing and an enhanced service-level agreement of 99.99 percent availability. As of November, customers will see savings of up to 50 percent on previously published prices for Premium and Standard tiers.

Did you spot Spotify in the Windows Phone Store? The free app lets you choose from millions of music tracks. You can browse, listen and create playlists, and you can save and share music, as well as follow others. The revamped NFL Fantasy Football apps for Windows and Windows Phone is our App of the Week, letting you join and create leagues in just minutes, and track live scoring on the go of your fantasy matchup and favorite players, with in-game video highlights available as soon as they happen on the field. You don’t want to miss the limited-time FREE Disney Games sale for Windows Phones, with six games available, including “Disney Solitaire” and “Toy Story: Smash It!” There’s also the Indie Game Spotlight in the Windows Phone Store for games like “Skelly Rider,” “Manuganu 2,” “Timberman by Digital Melody” and more than 30 others. The Share to Speech app turns articles into speech or MP3 files by sharing a Web page or pasting its link. It can also convert Microsoft Word and PowerPoint documents, along with many other text files, into speech. When you install Share to Speech from the Windows Store ($4.99), it also comes with the version for Windows Phone.

Spotify for Windows Phone

Spotify app for Windows Phone.

This week on the Microsoft Facebook page, we offered the ultimate back-to-school prize package. For a chance to win, tweet an #8WordEssay about this photo. Join us on our page to learn more on how to enter.

Microsoft Facbook page, 8-word essay, Weekend Reading

Hope you don’t have to labor too much – or at all – this weekend. Thanks for joining us for this edition of Weekend Reading, and we’ll see you next week!

Posted by Suzanne Choney
Microsoft News Center Staff


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

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.


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.


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.


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

Posted by Aimee Riordan
Microsoft News Center Staff