Category Archives: Microsoft Blog

Microsoft Blog

Skype for Business, which brings the best of Skype and Lync, due out in 2015

Skype has broken the distance barrier worldwide by bringing people together via video on computers, phones and tablets. Meanwhile, Lync simplifies and unifies the different tools people use to communicate for work. Drawing upon the strengths of both programs, the next version of Lync will become Skype for Business, it was announced Tuesday.

With Skype for Business, “We are bringing together the familiar experience and user love of Skype with the enterprise security, compliance and control from Lync to create the most loved and trusted communications platform for doing things together,” writes Gurdeep Pall, corporate vice president for Skype, in a blog post.

“We believe that Skype for Business will again transform the way people communicate by giving organizations reach to hundreds of millions of Skype users outside the walls of their business,” he says.

Skype for Business is due out in the first half of 2015. Current Lync Server customers will be able to update from Lync Server 2013 to the new Skype for Business Server in their datacenters, Pall writes. “No new hardware is required. For Office 365 customers, it’s even simpler. We’ll do the required update.”

To learn more, head over to the Skype Garage Blog and to the Office Blogs.

Suzanne Choney
Microsoft News Center Staff

Get hands-on with the new Lumia 535, the ‘5x5x5’ smartphone

The newest addition to the Lumia line of Windows Phone devices, the Lumia 535, comes with a 5-inch screen, 5-megapixel front-facing wide-angle camera, 5-megapixel rear camera and integration with Microsoft experiences such as Skype and OneNote.

Lumia 535

Lumia 535

Lumia 535 is available as a 3G Single SIM, or 3G Smart Dual SIM, both loaded with Windows Phone 8.1 and the Lumia Denim Update right out of the box. Features include one-swipe Action Center, Word Flow, Live Folders and Cortana (where available).

A 1.2 GHz quad-core processor powers the Lumia 535, which includes 1GB RAM and 8GB of memory. If you need more, slide in a microSD card, with support up to 128GB, or use 15GB of free OneDrive storage to store your photos or documents.

And on the outside, it’s just as appealing. You have an array of color choices with the Lumia 535: cyan, bright green, bright orange, white, dark grey and black. Pricing for Lumia 535 and Lumia 535 Dual SIM will vary by market and operator, but is estimated to be around 110 EUR before taxes and subsidies.

Find out more about the Lumia 535 in the hands-on video above and on Lumia Conversations.

Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff

The productivity engine

Words matter. They define, they shape, they influence, they have power. But most importantly, they evolve as our understanding of them and the world evolves.

And so it is with the word “productivity.”

In the world of technology, the word productivity has often been narrowly defined – usually referring to work that involves a document, spreadsheet, presentation, or to do list. But in its broader historical context it’s a word that has always had a bigger meaning – as a way to describe or measure what a person, team, organization or company accomplishes relative to the effort they put in. In other words, productivity is simply a way of thinking about how well we use our time.

And, as we all know, that time is increasingly scarce. That’s not a statement about work, it’s a statement about life. And that’s why we’ve set our sights on a much bigger goal: Helping people make the most of the moments that matter to them. Any moment, at work, home or on the move.

That’s why we’re not just in the “productivity business.” We’re in the business of helping people be more productive.

For Microsoft, last week clearly showed how big this productivity canvas is. First, we took one of the greatest productivity tools of all time in Microsoft Office and made it even more broadly available, bringing the service to iPhone and Android, and enhancing the mobility of people – across all devices, across all of life – to create, share and collaborate. That’s productivity. And then, across the globe we showcased productivity of an equally important, but very different way. We announced a partnership with the UK Guide Dogs to help the visually impaired to navigate cities in a ground breaking new way, supported by technology. That’s productivity, too.

Each showcased our core focus  –  reinventing tools for making the most of the moments that matter – at home, at work, or in between, and exposed how we think about the true meaning of productivity — it’s not a software category. It’s the engine of human progress. And as it has before, this engine needs to be reinvented to reflect our evolving world.

Because each day our world creates new technology. New devices, new apps, new services. Which means new ways to do things, new ways to connect, new things to learn. And while each holds the promise of helping us get more done, with less effort, too often they simply become one more thing competing for our scarce time and attention. Too often, these solutions become part of the problem. That’s why we need to rethink the way we make technology, and not simply make more.

We are entering an era where devices outnumber people and create more data than they consume and where the tools that served us well in the past will come up short. So making the most of our time will require a rethink of our tools. How will they need to change?

      • We need to move away from tools that require us to learn how they work, to natural tools that learn to work the way we do
      • We need to move from tools focused on our individual abilities to tools that empower social productivity
      • We need to move from tools that wait for us to act, towards intelligent tools that understand context in order to anticipate and prioritize what matters most
      • We need to move from a world where time and place dictate what we can do to a truly mobile world that revolves around us so that any device can become your device

Taken together these reflect a shift in centrality:  from a world with devices, software, or clouds are central, to a world where people are in the center. Still doing what they love, still getting stuff done, still looking for the best tools of creation to help them.

Because our customers are not constrained by an outdated definition of this thing called “productivity.” And neither are we.

More productivity for all, smarter cities, and Eddie Vedder and Microsoft raise money for rare disorder — Weekend Reading: Nov. 7th Edition

October may have left you in a candy-induced haze, but the first week in November comes with opportunities for increased productivity and news of inspirational people, and their actions. Read on!

Microsoft Thursday announced new and updated Office apps and experiences for the iPhone and iPad, a preview of Office for Android tablets and the ability for customers using these devices to create and edit Office content without a subscription. “With Office on nearly every device, it’s incredibly important to us that customers have a consistent experience and the ability to do more – anywhere and everywhere,” writes John Case, corporate vice president for Microsoft Office.


In other notable news, Microsoft announced, Tuesday, a strategic partnership with Dropbox to integrate file sharing services across Microsoft Office on phones, tablets and the Internet. “In our mobile-first and cloud-first world, people need easier ways to create, share and collaborate regardless of their device or platform,” said Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella.

Also on Tuesday, Kirill Tatarinov, executive vice president of Microsoft Business Solutions Group, announced at Convergence 2014 Europe in Barcelona, Spain, that Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 will be generally available next month. The new release includes advancements in natural user interface and integration with virtual assistant Cortana. Check out other highlights from Microsoft’s premier conference for the business community, here.


Imagine a place where beacons affixed to neighborhood objects ping information to a headset worn by someone who’s visually impaired to help them navigate an urban environment. This isn’t a city of the future, it’s a London suburb. The technology? Microsoft’s 3D soundscape in partnership with the charity Guide Dogs. The /stories team has the full scoop, in glorious, high-def detail.

Speaking of glorious high-def, imagine attending a private Eddie Vedder concert with 90 of your colleagues. That was a dream come true for a lucky few Microsoft employees thanks to their generous donation to the EB Research Foundation — the perfect capper to a banner Employee Giving Campaign season.


If your plans call for travel, and you like art, check out the City Art Search app, a great resource for finding galleries that house your favorite artists’ works and other must-see masterpieces. View the art, then plan to see it with Art Finder, which pinpoints its location on Bing Maps. If you’re more about breaking a sweat than exploring the Baroque period, check out the Microsoft Health app for Windows Phone, Android and iOS, which helps you achieve fitness goals by tracking your heart rate, steps, calorie burn and sleep quality. Pair the app with the new Microsoft Band wearable device.


This week on the Microsoft Facebook page, we featured Laura Butler, Distinguished Engineer at Microsoft. Laura told us, “If it’s not fun, you’re doing it wrong.”


Wishing success, whether your weekend calls for having fun, getting more done, getting in shape or helping your fellow man. Join us for more Weekend Reading. Same time. Same place.

Posted by Aimee Riordan
Microsoft News Center Staff


More Office. Everywhere you need it.

In March, we announced Office for the iPad®, a major step in commitment to bring Office to everyone, on every device and anywhere they need it. Since then, customers took to the App Store and downloaded Office for their iPads more than 40 million times and we’re delighted with the feedback we’ve received. Customers told us the apps are beautiful. They told us that they appreciated the familiar Office experience designed specifically for the iPad. And most importantly, they told us they wanted us to do more.

Since then, we’ve released native apps for OneNote, Lync, Yammer, OneDrive for Business and OWA for iOS and Android and we’ve continued our investment in the Mac platform with the release of Outlook for Mac and the Office for Mac beta scheduled for the first half of 2015.

Today we’re taking the next major step to bring Office to everyone, on every device, and I’m excited to announce that Office apps customers love are coming to Android tablets with the start of our Office for AndroidTM tablet Preview. We’re also delivering Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps for iPhone® and updates for the iPad apps–to ensure a consistently beautiful and productive Office experience on every device. Our vision of Office everywhere wouldn’t be complete without Windows, so I’m pleased to confirm that new, touch-optimized Office apps for Windows 10 are in the works and we’ll have more to share soon.

With Office on nearly every device, it’s incredibly important to us that customers have a consistent experience and the ability to do more–anywhere and everywhere. So, starting today, people can create and edit Office content on iPhones, iPads, and soon, Android tablets using Office apps without an Office 365 subscription.

Of course Office 365 subscribers will continue to benefit from the full Office experience across devices with advanced editing and collaboration capabilities, unlimited OneDrive storage, Dropbox integration and a number of other benefits.

I encourage you to download the new iPhone apps, update your iPad ones, sign up for the Android Preview and realize the full value of Office with a subscription.

Together with our customers and partners (thank you!) we’ve helped more than a billion people be more productive with Office and we’re committed to helping millions more.

For more details on the announcements we made today please visit our press release and the Office Blog.

iPad and iPhone are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc. Android is a trademark of Google Inc.

Additional resources:

Pilot program helps people with sight loss navigate cities like never before

I stood in a cul-de-sac in Reading, a suburb 30 minutes west of London, preparing for one of the most unique journeys of my life.

“Journey” may seem a strong word for walking a few blocks and getting on a bus. At my normal pace, it should only be 444 steps from the Tudor-and-brick-walled quietude of Tamarisk Avenue to the bus stop around the corner. But considering the deeply meaningful work happening in this small corridor of England, and the way I’ll feel after my trip (as topsy-turvy as if I’d spent the day at Six Flags), there’s nothing else to call it but a journey.

It was midday on a Tuesday. The weather was capricious, scattering raindrops across our jackets one minute and warming our faces with sunshine the next.

“OK, I think we’re ready,” said Mike Parker, a kind, bearded Microsoft user experience designer. He handed me a shiny, black smart phone. “Your phone is all ready to go, so you can just put it in your pocket. Chris, do you have her cane?”

Chris Yates, an amiable mobility instructor for the charity Guide Dogs, handed me a long, white folding cane with a rubber stopper at the bottom and quickly showed me how to sweep it from side to side, tapping the pavement in front of me as if dipping a toe into bathwater of unknown temperature. As I tried the cane, Parker placed a pair of bone-conducting headphones around the back of my skull and handed me a heavy-duty black blindfold.

I was about to try a prototype of Microsoft’s 3D soundscape technology – an audio-rich experience in which the headset, smartphone and indoor and outdoor beacons all work together to enhance the mobility, confidence and independence of people with vision loss. This project is the result of a unique partnership between Microsoft, the charity Guide Dogs, and a number of other partners including Network Rail, Reading Buses, the urban planning agency Future Cities Catapult, the Reading Borough Council and the grocer Tesco (not to mention the understanding neighbors on Tamarisk Avenue).

Once the heavy blindfold blocked all the light, my other senses clumsily shifted and my hearing went into overdrive as the headset started sending 3D audio cues directly into my inner ear.

“Uh, I hear something like that galloping coconut noise from Monty Python,” I said. The guys chuckled.

Read the full story.

Distinguished Engineer Laura Butler is the brilliant, mischievous mind behind some of Microsoft’s most iconic products

Children love bubbles and water fountains. Most adults tend to find more exhilaration from an incoming text. Sometimes, however, there’s that rarest of souls, a grown-up who manages to find beauty in both. Those are the types of people you want to be around, because their contagious joie de vivre delivers a jolt of energy to your ho-hum day.

Laura Butler, Distinguished Engineer at Microsoft, is one such person. Currently she’s standing in harm’s way for a photo shoot, underneath a massive metallic fountain at the Seattle Center. As the waterworks cascade down, Laura just laughs and twirls her umbrella, a modern-day Mary Poppins. “If it’s not fun, you’re doing it wrong.” Inspiring words to live by indeed. If I had a second umbrella, I thought, I’d probably join her.

Such is the magnetism of Butler’s personality. She’s a funny and self-deprecating force of nature, given to free-form monologues that display humor, pathos and massive amounts of brainpower. “Laura’s incredible energy, intelligence, and dizzying stream of analogies leave you awed in the first five minutes of meeting her,” said Microsoft CVP and former boss, Darren Laybourn. Microsoft Technical Fellow Richard Ward, a longtime peer, concurs, adding, “You never walk away from Laura without learning something new.”

She’s quirky, a pop kitsch queen who freely mixes references to 80s anthems (Safety Dance), cult comedies (“Team America: World Police”), and Miss Piggy with nods to high culture (Dostoyevsky, “War and Peace,” and Horatio Hornblower). Her cats are named Pavlov and Curie, after the scientists. She’s a Star Trek fanatic with an autographed picture of William Shatner and a Spock cookie jar by her desk. She readily admits that she has a thing for the pointy-eared Vulcan and his logical, yet emotional charms.

Butler always carries a journal to scrawl notes. There’s a page devoted to television shows, movies, and books she wants to “consume,” another for book ideas she wants to write, to-do lists, little tactical notes for work, and one for potential inventions, such as an umbrella with a cup holder, that are brilliant in their simple utility.

As one of Microsoft’s early employees, she’s worked on products dating back to Word for Windows (she jokes that it was just a single Window back then). During her tenure at the company, she has helped design a long list of features, including a new user interface in Windows ’95, multi-monitor support, and Application and Desktop sharing in NetMeeting, a forefather to Lync. During the Windows Phone 7 revamp, she was the driving force behind the “Buttery Smooth” metro user interface, including the phone’s elegant home screen, live tiles, modern interfaces and touch capability.

Read the full profile at

Inside Microsoft’s futuristic Applied Sciences lab with Distinguished Scientist Stevie Bathiche

If Microsoft designers have groupies, then they look like the chipper young guys who pop out from around corners at Studio B to greet Stevie Bathiche. Tagging behind Bathiche, distinguished scientist with Microsoft’s Applied Sciences Group — an interdisciplinary team working on the next phase of interactive technologies — I feel like the rookie reporter in a geeky version of “Almost Famous.”

But if he’s famous, he doesn’t know it, or at least act like it. Bathiche is disarmingly humble and refreshingly honest. Tall and lanky, with long, rock star-quality black hair, he’s even a little goofy. Bonding over an appreciation for Italian coffee and discussing the nature of invention in the atrium outside his lab, I wonder aloud whether, had I been a resident of ancient Mesopotamia, I would have thought up the wheel. It seems so obvious, the ubiquitous wheel. But what kinds of obvious inventions are right in front of me right now that I’m not smart enough to think of?

Bathiche gives his macchiato a stir and looks me square in the eye. “I would not have thought of the wheel,” he says gravely.

“I am sure you would have thought of the wheel,” I insist.

I am sure the guy who came up with a cockroach-powered vehicle when he was 20 and holds 60 patents would have thought of the wheel.

“I would have not thought of the wheel.”

This is the kid who built a Van de Graaff generator in elementary school with his mother’s salad bowl domes.

“She was mad, because I put two holes in them and put them together” — but, he remembers with a laugh, “I put it together, and it ran and it worked. I was shocking myself!”

Read the full profile at

Microsoft Health and Microsoft Band: Getting in shape has never been so productive — Weekend Reading: Oct. 31st Edition

This week, we’ve got stories about the new Microsoft Health platform and Microsoft Band device, a new partnership with the Special Olympics and new cloud services and mobility solutions announced at TechEd Europe.

Microsoft Health, an exciting new platform, includes a cloud service where consumers and industry can store and combine health and fitness data to gain powerful insights using Microsoft’s Intelligence Engine. Those insights include: which exercises burned the most calories during a workout, recommended recovery time based on the intensity of a workout, and the amount of restful vs. restless sleep you’ve gotten. The free Microsoft Health app is available for Android, iOS and Windows Phone. Activity-tracking devices like the new Microsoft Band, smart watches and mobile phones, plus services like RunKeeper or MyFitnessPal connect to Microsoft Health. The Microsoft Band, designed to be worn whether you’re at the gym or on the job, has 10 smart sensors for 24-hour heart rate monitoring, calorie burn measurement, advanced sleep quality tracking and more. It also keeps you productive and connected at a glance with helpful, smart notifications including incoming calls, emails, texts and social updates, as well as access to Cortana.


Microsoft announced a three-year, multimillion dollar partnership with the Special Olympics that will modernize the nonprofit organization’s technology and place it in the cloud. The Azure-based games management system will enable instant access to real-time updates and athlete information. Microsoft also will sponsor the summer 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles (and provide 800 Surface tablets and 1,200 Lumia phones to track all events at the Games, while connecting volunteers across multiple venues), and the winter 2017 World Games in Austria. The company has also committed to raising additional funds for the nonprofit, pledging $1 million over the life of the partnership in the spirit of Microsoft’s company-wide Giving Campaign.

Microsoft-Special Olympics

New cloud services, mobility solutions, APIs, tools and an expanded ecosystem of partner solutions were announced at TechEd Europe. They’re all designed to help IT professionals and developers compete and thrive in today’s mobile-first, cloud-first world. Microsoft also announced management, security, privacy and compliance enhancements for the Enterprise Mobility Suite and Office 365. “We are using the power of our cloud platform — Azure, Office 365 and Microsoft Dynamics — to deliver technology solutions that empower IT professionals, developers and end users to do more,” said Jason Zander, corporate vice president of Microsoft Azure.


It’s a holiday bundle bonanza: Xbox One will be $349 for a limited time, starting Nov. 2, and there are several exclusive bundles to choose from, including the Xbox One “Assassin’s Creed” Bundle and the Xbox One Special Edition “Sunset Overdrive” Bundle, each $349. There’s also the Xbox One “Assassin’s Creed” Bundle with Kinect, which comes with “Assassin’s Creed: Unity,” “Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag” and “Dance Central Spotlight,” for $449. You also might be salivating over the Xbox One Limited Edition “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare” Bundle, with a 1TB hard drive, custom console, custom controller and Limited Edition exoskeleton, plus a digital copy of the “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Day Zero Edition.” That bundle is $449 and is available starting Nov. 3.

There are no limits anymore when it comes to OneDrive cloud storage for Office 365 subscribers, a change that took effect this week for Office 365 Home, Personal and University customers, and will be rolled out during the coming months, says Chris Jones, corporate vice president for OneDrive & SharePoint. “For OneDrive for Business customers, unlimited storage is now listed on the Office 365 roadmap and we will begin updating the First Release customers in 2015, aligned with our promise to provide ample notification for significant service changes.”

One Drive, Office 365, cloud storage

Have some ghoulish, game-playing fun this weekend with “Minecraft” and the Steampunk and Halloween Texture Packs that will give your worlds a spooky look, and are free for all Xbox One and Xbox 360 miners worldwide. “Despicable Me: Minion Rush” has an update for Windows and Windows Phone that includes a new Frankenstein Minion character and haunted decorations, and lets you storm Vector’s Fortress and the Bunker. If you’re out trick-or-treating, you might miss the first airing of “Remaking the Legend – Halo 2: Anniversary Documentary,” but it will be shown again this weekend on, and you can also download it for free on Xbox Video, or watch it on the Halo Channel on Nov. 11.

Minecraft, Halloween, Xbox 360, Xbox One

Thanks for reading this edition of Weekend Reading. Have a fun – and safe – Halloween!

Posted by Suzanne Choney
Microsoft News Center Staff

Introducing Microsoft Health

Today we’re announcing a new platform called Microsoft Health. Within health and fitness, there is rapid innovation occurring around wearable devices with smart sensors that are telling us more about our lives. A vibrant marketplace of devices and services is giving us access to a wealth of data about our nutrition, health and fitness. We see an opportunity to bring these devices and services together to allow you to combine the information they collect and use the power of the cloud to turn that data in to something more valuable.

The Microsoft Health platform includes a cloud service for consumers and the industry to store and combine health and fitness data to create powerful insights. Microsoft Health will be available for consumers from the new Microsoft Health app which launches today on Android, iOS and Windows Phone. Also launching today is the Microsoft Band, a smart band designed for Microsoft Health, for people who want to live healthier and be more productive.

First, let’s talk about how Microsoft Health will make tracking personal fitness easier, more insightful and more holistic. Microsoft Health will unite data from different health and fitness devices and services in a single, secure location. Once stored in Microsoft Health, you can combine the data you generate from different devices and services – steps, calories, heart rate and more –  to receive powerful insights from our Intelligence Engine. At launch, our Intelligence Engine will share insights such as:

  • Which exercises burned the most calories during a workout
  • The recommended recovery time based on the intensity of a workout
  • The amount of restful vs. restless sleep

Over time, you will have the choice to combine your fitness data with calendar and email information from Office as well as location-based information and more. As you make more data available, the Intelligence Engine will get smarter and provide more powerful insights, such as:

  • Fitness performance relative to work schedule
  • Whether eating breakfast helps you run faster
  • If the number of meetings during the day impacts sleep quality.

Microsoft Health is designed to benefit our partners in many ways. For new entrants and startups we have a complete offering that includes our app, and APIs as well as cloud storage for their data. Existing services can upload their data to Microsoft Health and take advantage of our advanced algorithms and the powerful machine learning from our Intelligence Engine to give their customers insights. New devices can license our 10 wrist-worn sensor modules to gather robust data including active heart rate, sleep and GPS.

Today, we are announcing that Microsoft Health will work with UP by Jawbone, MapMyFitness, MyFitnessPal and RunKeeper. Soon, Microsoft Health will also allow you, at your choosing, to connect your Microsoft Health data to HealthVault to share with your medical provider.  We plan to have a regular cadence of Microsoft Health announcements including additional device and service partnerships, SDK availability and additional cross-platform applications and services.

We are also excited to launch the Microsoft Band, a smart band designed to be worn 24 hours a day by people who are active both in the gym and on the job. The Microsoft Band has 10 smart sensors for 24-hour heart rate monitoring, calorie burn measurement, advanced sleep quality tracking and more as well as Guided Workouts curated by Gold’s Gym, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle & Fitness. The Microsoft Band will keep you connected at a glance with helpful, smart notifications including incoming calls, emails, texts and social updates as well as access to Cortana. Microsoft Band is now available in the US in limited quantities at and starting October 30th at Microsoft Stores for $199.

Today, we are taking our first steps with the industry to empower people to achieve more with their fitness and wellness. We’d like to invite you to join us on this journey. We’ll be building this experience jointly with you and our partners and we are committed to continuously improving the service based on the feedback we receive.

I invite you to read the story behind the new Microsoft Band on Microsoft News Center and explore Microsoft Health and Microsoft Band to learn more.

And in closing, I’m proud to share with you the excitement of our partners in their own words:

“We are excited to have Microsoft Health integrate with our open platform. This will allow us to provide even more personalized insights through the Jawbone UP® system in the future.” – Travis Bogard, VP of Product and Strategy, Jawbone

“As a leader in Connected Fitness, we are excited to take part in the Microsoft Health platform. Both Microsoft Health and Under Armour/MapMyFitness aspire to connect a wide range of fitness tracking devices, via an open cloud platform, to make fitness simpler and more rewarding. We look forward to the development of Microsoft Health and cannot wait to share even greater insights with our community.” – Brian Pitstick, Director of Business Development, Under Armour

“RunKeeper is thrilled to join Microsoft in our shared mission of encouraging healthy and active living. A single, open destination for fitness data will allow us to provide even better insights to the more than 36 million people around the world using RunKeeper to experience the joys of running.” – Jason Jacobs, CEO and founder, RunKeeper

“At MyFitnessPal, user success is our true North, and we are excited to join Microsoft in their mission to make fitness easier through Microsoft Health. Plugging into their cloud platform will allow us to match up fitness and nutrition data from our 65 million users around the world with deeper and broader data, ultimately helping people build even healthier habits in their everyday lives.” – Mike Lee, CEO, MyFitnessPal

“Partnering with Microsoft on Microsoft Band aligns perfectly with our mission at Gold’s Gym.  Together, with our goal-based workouts created specifically for Microsoft Band, we will help people achieve their potential through fitness.” – Michael Cobb, Chief Marketing Officer, Gold’s Gym