Category Archives: Microsoft News

Microsoft News

Microsoft YouthSpark at We Day

The WE movement has empowered millions of young people across North America to improve their communities and the world. To inspire even more, WE Day will be broadcast on CBS – with a star-studded cast including Selena Gomez, Alicia Keys, Alessia Cara and more – to celebrate the positive impact of young people.

In 2013, Microsoft brought WE Day to the United States for the first time. We saw how WE Day and the year-long WE Schools program inspired youth to create opportunities for themselves and others through service learning. Since then, we’ve helped bring the movement to hundreds of thousands of students in the US and Canada.

This year, Microsoft is proud to partner with WE to bring the WE movement to more students, educators and schools than ever before. For the first time, the WE Schools Kit will be available as a Microsoft OneNote digital download. Now, teachers and students can get involved regardless of their location.

Together, Microsoft and WE are empowering a generation of young people with the skills, resources, and inspiration they need to create a more inclusive world.

Sign up for WE Schools >

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LinkedIn is rolling out a free service to pair users with mentors

LinkedIn, the Microsoft-owned social network for the working world with over 500 million users, has put a lot of effort into new areas of business like content, education and bringing on new users in emerging markets; but today it’s embarking on the roll out of a new service that plays squarely into the bread and butter of its business: looking for work.

Today, the company is debuting a new service that identifies potential mentors and people who might be looking for mentorship in a specific area, and then helps match them to each other. The service (which started with a small test last month) is free and will be available first to users in San Francisco and Australia, Hari Srinivasan, Head of Identity Products at LinkedIn, tells me.

Initially, LinkedIn has tapped a hand-selected list of potential mentors, who will come up as a list, Tinder-style, to people who indicate that they are interested in getting some mentoring, so that a match might get made. Mentors are given options about who they would prefer to mentor, be it people in their first- and second-degree networks, in their region or their former school. Over time, Srinivasan said that the option to become a mentor will be open to everyone, which makes sense: we call could stand to learn something from everyone.

On the mentee side, after you indicate that you are interested in getting some advice or feedback on a particular topic, LinkedIn then gives you your own potential parameters to narrow down your search (again, initially these are whether you want people near you, or from your alma mater), or if you potentially want a list of potential mentors that is as wide as LinkedIn’s user base.

Once you match, you can then message each other, and either side can terminate the communication at any point.

LinkedIn is hoping to tap into what appears to be a gap in the market: career mentoring is a simple enough thing to have when you happen to have chanced upon someone in the same field as you are, either by working with that person or knowing him or her through other channels. It’s a lot harder if you haven’t found that person, or if you are thinking of something less linear, like a career change.

There are career coaching services — for example, the venture-backed startups BetterUp and Everwise — but these can be more formal and come at a price. Out of Office Hours, which was created out of a ‘give something back’ effort over a holiday period, currently focuses on tech careers in Silicon Valley. Notably, LinkedIn’s service (for now) is free, and has the potential to cover as many jobs as there are people registered on the platform.

There are some obvious benefits to LinkedIn with a launch of a service like this. It will give the company one more service to spur engagement on its platform, and this time the new engagement effort directly relates to how most people tend to use LinkedIn already.

It’s also a potential segue into using other services on LinkedIn, including additional training (via Lynda.com or LinkedIn Learning); job searches; and potentially paying for a more tradition career coach that you might just find through ProFinder, LinkedIn’s freelancer marketplace, where LinkedIn tells me career coaching is “one of the most sought after categories on the platform.”

That highlights what might be some of the benefits but also potential pitfalls of this new career matching service. It’s free; generally great that there could be people at the other end of a message who are willing to lend you a helping hand; and it is a cool use of LinkedIn’s network effect to offer a route for those who want to contribute some time to mentors to be able to do so. LinkedIn’s Srinivasan said that this idea wasn’t pulled out of thin air.

“We have done research and found that among the senior ranks of our user base, nine out of 10 people have said they want to give back,” he said. “Paying it forward is a powerful force. All of them received help on the way up and now want to find a way to give that help back to others.”

But on the other hand, there are potential snagging points here, too: how much help is too much to be asking of people who are offering their services for free; and how does LinkedIn make sure that it has enough mentors (or for that matter people wanting to reach out to mentors) across different fields? Will LinkedIn have to eventually introduce other elements to the platform to encourage more usage, like payments or credits for premium features? Keeping the service free and limited in its initial roll out as LinkedIn figures more answers out is one way of holding too many demands of it at bay.

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Wifi is key to connecting rural America to new opportunities

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Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., has already promised to introduce legislation charging the FCC to craft new “strong broadband” rules, an action that would allow the FCC to relook at the issue.
USA TODAY

Recently, Microsoft president Brad Smith presented the company’s plan to bridge the “Rural Broadband Gap.”

It’s kind of a big deal. As big a deal as when kids raised in the country didn’t get the same education as town kids. You might think that is a story from long ago, but you’d be wrong. It’s a present-day problem. Rural America is lagging behind the world in broadband access, and that’s unacceptable. 

More than 23.4 million Americans don’t have access to broadband simply because they live in rural areas. Broadband is practically a necessity for life in this century. It provides access to everything from health care to agriculture and brings education right into your home.

Broadband is not about playing Minecraft. Broadband is access to the world. It allows a grandmother to see the face of her grandchild halfway around the globe and hear about whatever happened that day.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS) found that the number of rural children living in poverty is rising despite the fact that the U.S. economy as a whole has seen income and employment gains.

There are more than 5 million households with school-age children that don’t have Internet.

It’s no surprise when we see that 85 percent of the America’s “persistent poverty counties” are in rural areas. Microsoft is starting the process of bringing the rural parts of America up to speed with what the rest of us already take for granted.

How will Microsoft do it?

In the past, it has simply been cost-prohibitive to get the internet out to sparsely populated areas. Not anymore. The answer to the problem lies right in our current TV system.

They’re called “white spaces,” and they are basically vacant and unused channels within the TV band system and they can be used for broadband connection. On these 600 MHz frequencies, the connection strength is so powerful it’s known as “Super WiFi.” It can travel through walls and over hills with no problem. You can be a kilometer away and still connect to it. Combine that with other advancing technology, and Microsoft has goals to reach 2 million rural people within the next five years.

Microsoft can’t solve this problem alone. It wants to become an example and a catalyst for what can be done. Company officials have said they will license the 39 patents they have on white spaces to anyone, even a competitor, royalty-free to get this problem solved. Microsoft estimates it can solve about 10 percent of the Rural Broadband Gap problem with the plan it has laid out.

Now it’s up to Ajit Pai’s Federal Communications Commission to approve the use of white spaces in this way to unleash Microsoft. Microsoft has done this before in other countries. The company has a blueprint that works.

Rural homes were the last to be reached by electricity and telephones. It’s no different with broadband. It’s time for rural America to have the same resources everyone else has.

STEVE SHERMAN of North Liberty is a writer, business owner, and a former Iowa House candidate. Contact: [email protected]

 

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Eye Control for Windows 10, inclusive tech design for all and more options for getting a new Surface device – Weekend Reading: Aug. 4 edition – The Official Microsoft Blog

“Anyone can drive change every day. Everyone can make an impact.” Who said it? The answer is to be found in this edition of Weekend Reading, along with news about the addition to Windows 10 of an eye tracker that will enable people to operate an on-screen mouse, keyboard and text-to-speech experience using only their eyes; the importance of inclusive design in technology; and expanded purchase options for Surface devices.

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Windows 10 will include built-in eye tracking support and an experience called Eye Control that empowers people with disabilities to use a compatible eye tracker to operate an on-screen mouse, keyboard and text-to-speech experience in Windows 10 using only their eyes. “Having Eye Control in Windows 10 continues to bridge the gap between widely used technology and people with disabilities. It’s simply liberating,” says former NFL athlete Steve Gleason, who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s).

Three years ago, Gleason challenged Microsoft to help him during the company’s inaugural One Week Hackathon. ALS has robbed him of his ability to speak, move so much as a finger or breathe without a respirator. During the hackathon, employees who made up the Ability Eye Gaze team developed the Eye Gaze Wheelchair, which allowed Gleason to drive his wheelchair using only the movement of his eyes as he looked at controls on his Surface device. The project was received so enthusiastically by employees and the ALS community that a new Microsoft Research team was created to understand the potential of eye-tracking technology.

Eye Control creates options and is inclusive, something that is vital to good technology design, even with items like the OXO Good Grips fruit and vegetable peeler. Millions of them have been sold, but the peeler was inspired by one person. One person who wanted his wife, who had arthritis, to be able to cut and peel fruit just like everyone else. Inclusive design, design that benefits everyone, is the topic of the latest .future podcast which looks at how inclusive design is making technology work better for everyone. It features Jenny Lay-Flurrie and Sean Marihugh from Microsoft, as well as Angela Glover Blackwell, the founder and CEO of PolicyLink, and Dan Hermosa, a design consultant and professor.

Woman sitting on bed using Surface with cup of coffee in one hand

In time for back to school, and for anyone looking to get a Surface, the Surface Plus and Surface Plus Business programs were announced this week. Both programs offer flexible financing options designed to help more people and businesses take advantage of the power a Surface Laptop, Surface Pro, Surface Book or Surface Studio for a low monthly payment and zero percent interest. Surface Plus also offers customers the opportunity to upgrade their devices after 18 months for no additional cost. Also with the classroom in mind, Microsoft announced new deals on the Surface Pro 4 and select devices from ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung, Toshiba and more.

Back to School LIVE promo for Facebook starting Aug. 16, 2017

Teachers getting ready to head back to the classroom may want to do some fun learning to prepare. Microsoft is holding its first “Back to School LIVE” series, starting Aug. 15 with a global #MSFTEduChat TweetMeet at both 10 a.m. PT and 4 p.m. PT. Then, on Aug. 16, “Back to School LIVE” starts a day-long series of Facebook live videos, from 11 a.m. PT until 5 p.m. PT, on the Microsoft Education Facebook page. Teachers will find out how to collaborate seamlessly on projects, learn to code and let creativity loose from the very first day of school.

GIF of how Send Money works on Skype with PayPal

You can now transfer money to friends and family using PayPal on Skype with the new Send Money feature that began rolling out Wednesday. When you’re using the Skype mobile app on your phone, swipe right, tap Send Money and use PayPal to get the money on its way. The feature is available in 22 countries and includes options for currency exchange.

WE co-founder Craig Kielburger shown in a Skype conversation
WE co-founder Craig Kielburger participating in the Microsoft Design Experience through Skype for Business. (Photo by Devon Young)

More than 20 years ago, inspired by a news story on child slavery, a family of organizations known as WE was started by Craig Kielburger and his older brother Marc. Since then, WE has grown into a global movement that brings young people together to change the world. We met Kielburger this week, and learned about the work his organizations do. WE’s ongoing steps to modernize include using cloud services such as Microsoft Azure and Office 365 (donated by Microsoft Philanthropies through its free and discounted offerings for nonprofits), Microsoft Dynamics and Power BI. “WE makes doing good doable,” says Kielburger. And, he says: “Anyone can drive change every day. Everyone can make an impact.” (Ding-ding-ding! If you’ve followed along from the start of Weekend Reading, give yourself props for reading comprehension!)

Three Xbox controllers available in August 2017

Gamers have more choices in accessories with three new Xbox wireless controllers, a new smaller Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows 10 and two new controller bundles announced this week. The wireless controller designs include Green/Grey, Patrol Tech Special Edition and Volcano Shadow Special Edition. Each controller pairs seamlessly with any Xbox One, including the newest member of the Xbox family, Xbox One X. For PC gamers, the new Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows 10 is half the size of the previous Wireless Adapter design, taking up less space around USB ports.

Musician Alison Wonderland
Alison Wonderland

This week on the Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn pages, we featured Alison Wonderland, a rising star, DJ and producer on the electronic music scene. Together, we developed a custom Surface-powered tour kit that can be controlled from the stage, allowing her to connect deeper with her audience by taking the live visual experience to the next level. The compact set-up works with Kinect in real time to tailor visuals to any venue and insert her human element and distinct style into each performance.

That’s it for this edition of Weekend Reading. We’ll see you back here next week!

Suzanne Choney
Microsoft News Center Staff

Tags: accessibility, education, Eye Control, Games, inclusiveness, Kinect, PayPal, PC, skype, Surface, teachers, Windows 10, WR, XBOX, Xbox One X

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Microsoft is releasing a version of Windows 10 that lets you control the system with your eyes

W10 Eye ControlWindows 10’s Eye Control feature can be used by people with disabilities to operate using only their eyes.Microsoft/YouTube

Microsoft is using eye-tracking technology to allow Windows 10 users to interact with the system using nothing other than their eyes, the company announced in a blog post (which we first saw via VentureBeat).

The technology itself comes from Tobii, a Swedish company that has long worked on eye controlled systems, which is now partnering with the Redmond giant to make the feature part of Microsoft’s operating system (OS).

What Tobii refers to as “eye gaze” will appear inside Windows 10’s accessibility settings as “Eye Control” in the OS’ newest Windows Insider preview build (16257, for those keeping track), and will use your computer’s camera to understand where on the screen you are looking at.

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via GIPHY

Not all cameras work with Windows’ Eye Control, however, and Tobii’s own Eye Tracker 4C will be the first one to support the new feature.

As soon as you activate Eye Control, a little “launchpad” will appear on the screen, and depending on where you lay your eyes, the system will let you use your eyes as a mouse, fire up an on-screen keyboard (US layout only, for now), activate text-to-speech, or reposition UI elements.

The keyboard is possibly the most interesting feature of Eye Control: You can either type by looking at each letter individually, or use what Microsoft calls “shape-writing,” which works like swipe keyboards on a touch screen.

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via GIPHY

To type a word, stare at the first and last letter for about a second, and “simply glance at letters in between;” Windows 10 will guess what word you were thinking of, and also offer up to four different predictions in case its first choice was wrong.

“With eye tracking, devices can better understand our intentions, a key ability in creating truly natural human-computer interaction,” said president of Tobii Tech Oscar Werner in a statement, VentureBeat reports. “Eye tracking support in Windows 10 has the potential to form a new paradigm that fundamentally transforms how we interact with our devices.”

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Get the latest Microsoft stock price here.

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For a limited time, save up to 50 percent on ‘Fallout Shelter’ in-app purchases – The Fire Hose

Fans of “Fallout Shelter” – as well as those who have yet to discover the thrills of surviving beneath the Wasteland through community-building and self-protection – can now save up to 50 percent on a dozen favorite in-app purchases.

Discounts include 20 percent off a case of Nuka Cola ($3.99; regularly $4.99); 30 percent off 15 lunchboxes ($6.99, regularly $9.99); and 50 percent off 40 pet crates ($9.99, regularly $19.99).

Check out the sale through downloading “Fallout Shelter” for free from the Windows Store. And hurry, these savings are only available for a limited time.

Also, keep up with what’s hot, new and trending in the Windows Store on Twitter and Facebook.

Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff

Tags: Games, IAP, in-app purchases, Windows Store

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This Week on Windows: Remix 3D, Minecraft and more – Windows Experience Blog

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We hope you enjoyed today’s episode of This Week on Windows! Head over here to catch up on our latest programs and deals for back to school, read our Windows 10 Tip on how to use Surface Dial with Paint 3D – or, keep reading for what’s new in the Windows Store.

In case you missed it:

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If you want to learn all about new updates and features from Microsoft Education, you’ve arrived in the right spot and just in time to see our latest video. We’re talking about Microsoft Teams, OneNote and Forms this month on What’s New in EDU, and hearing from educators who got to experience ISTE17. Plus: We’re highlighting a new device that staff and students will love. Read more over at the Education Blog!

Here’s what’s new in the Windows Store this week:

The Better Together Beta for Minecraft is here!

If you’re on a Windows 10 PC, your world expands to being able to play with friends across devices. The Better Together Update we announced at E3 2017 is designed to unify the console, mobile and Windows 10 PC versions of the game under one single Minecraft edition, which will include infinite worlds, the community Marketplace and community servers (which are coming to the beta later on!). It’ll introduce cross-platform support, allowing console, Windows 10 PC and mobile Minecrafters to play together for the first time! Who can participate? Players on Windows 10 PC, Android and soon Xbox One are welcome to jump into cross-platform play with other beta testers across all three devices. For the full announcement, head over to Minecraft.net!

Forza

Welcome to week three of the Forza Motorsport 7 Garage, our weekly look at the 700+ cars coming to the game at launch. This week, in addition to announcing a massive collection of Japanese vehicles – 77 in total – we’re also turning the spotlight on the body customization options available to players in Forza Motorsport 7. For the first time in the Forza Motorsport series, we’re bringing wide-body kits to a number of cars in Forza Motorsport 7. In addition, numerous body-kit options from Forza Horizon 3 will also be available in Forza Motorsport 7, including Upgrade Heroes like the Nissan S14 and the 240SX SE announced today. Wheel options will be abundant in Forza Motorsport 7. In addition to bringing over a number of the new-entry wheels from Forza Horizon 3, we’re adding a selection of new race-inspired. Read more over at Xbox Wire!

Alien

While on a colonizing mission in a distant corner of the galaxy, the ship Covenant stumbles upon a planet that appears to be an undiscovered paradise…but is actually home to something more terrifying than they ever could have imagined. Watch Alien: Covenant ($19.99 HD, $17.99 SD), now available in the Movies & TV section of the Windows Store two weeks before it comes to Blu-ray. For a limited time, win fun swag courtesy of #AlienCovenant! Learn more here.

Minecraft marketplace

Today, we’re releasing even more new content created by our Marketplace partners Noxcrew, Eneija, Razzleberry Fox and Jigarbov: Infinity Dungeon EX map, Summer Festival Skin Pack, Survivors Skin Pack, Kings and Paupers Skin Pack, and the Sports Skin Pack! Anyone on Bedrock Engine platforms can download the new content for now (Windows 10 & mobile devices), but we’re bringing Xbox One and Nintendo Switch into the Bedrock ecosystem soon. To learn more, head over to Minecraft.net!

Have a great weekend!

Updated August 4, 2017 10:50 am

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See your 3D creations take life with the newest update to Remix 3D – Windows Experience Blog

Announcing Parts and Remixes: a new way to experience and create in 3D

Last October, we announced our vision of bringing 3D to everyone, making it easy to create, remix and share in 3D. With the release of the Windows 10 Creators Update, we made this vision a reality with the release of Paint 3D and the Remix3D.com community. Today, we’re excited to announce new capabilities in Remix 3D – Parts and Remixes – an all new way to experience the relationship between 3D content and see how it can transform and take new life when shared with a creative community.

With the explosion of content surrounding us, the original attribution of a creation tends to get lost. The idea of remixing content into something new, and then seeing the “parts” of that new creation (with attribution to the original creators), lets everyone see and get inspired by each part, each remix, and each artist who contributed to a 3D creation.

Let’s dig into how these new features work:

In our weekly show, This Week on Windows, we talked with Scott Porter and Amy Henson from the Remix3D team about the new features. You can check it out below:

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On any model page on Remix3D.com, you’ll now notice two new tabs: Parts and Remixes. Parts will display the individual parts that make up the model. An island with a tree and a pirate on it may have three parts: the island model, the tree model and the pirate model.

Parts

But what if someone remixes that island and adds a ship? That would appear under Remixes. The Remixes tab is a way to show how other creators are inspired and building off other amazing creations. If someone remixed a model you created, their new design would point back to your original model in the Remixes tab.

Parts

Whether you’re a professional 3D modeler or just a curious beginner, we invite you to join our community and upload, collaborate, and remix with us and inspire all new ways to create!  We’ve already been inspired by your creativity, we can’t wait to see what’s next!

Parts and Remixes will be available everywhere  Paint 3D and Remix 3D are available. If you’d like to learn more about how to get started with Paint 3D, visit this blog post.

Updated August 3, 2017 10:03 am

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Online training for Azure Data Lake

We are pleased to announce the availability of new, free online training for Azure Data Lake. We’ve designed this training to get developers ramped up fast. It covers all the topics a developer needs to know to start being productive with big data and how to address the challenges of authoring, debugging, and optimizing at scale.

Explore the training

Click on the link below to start!

Microsoft Virtual Academy: Introduction to Azure Data Lake

Looking for more?

You can find this training and many more resources for developers.

Course outline

1 | Introduction to Azure Data Lake

Get an overview of the entire Azure Data Lake set of services including HDI, ADL Store, and ADL Analytics.

2 | Introduction to Azure Data Lake Tools for Visual Studio

Since ADL developers of all skill levels use Azure Data Lake Tools for Visual Studio, review the basic set of capabilities offered in Visual Studio.

3 | U-SQL Programming

Explore the fundamentals of the U-SQL language, and learn to perform the most common U-SQL data transformations.

4 | Introduction to Azure Data Lake U-SQL Batch Job

Find out what’s happening behind the scenes, when running a batch U-SQL script in Azure.

5 | Advanced U-SQL

Learn about the more sophisticated features of the U-SQL language to calculate more useful statistics and learn how to extend U-SQL to meet many diverse needs.

6 | Debugging U-SQL Job Failures

Since, at some point, all developers encounter a failed job, get familiar with the causes of failure and how they manifest themselves.

7 | Introduction to Performance and Optimization

Review the basic concepts that drive performance in a batch U-SQL job, and examine strategies available to address those issues when they come up, along with the tools that are available to help.

8 | ADLS Access Control Model

Explore how Azure Data Lake Store uses the POSIX Access Control model, which is very different for users coming from a Windows background.

9 | Azure Data Lake Outro and Resources

Learn about course resources.

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Marketplace gets Infinity Dungeon, skins and steampunk!

A healthy slew of new skins is arriving on Marketplace today. Four packs of them, in fact! It’s really quite a range, from post-apocalyptic survival experts, medieval peasantfolk to beach bums and athletes of every kind. You can find them all by going directly to Marketplace through this very link on your Minecraftin’ mobile device or Windows 10 machine.

But even if you’re already comfortable in your own skin, there’s something else that might perk your interest: the ever-changing, reconfiguring, randomised deathtrap that is INFINITY DUNGEON EX! It’s a new version of a legendary map by the equally legendary Jigarbov, and it generates a new dungeon every time it’s played from a dizzying array of modules, each containing a different challenge. Parkour, combat, logic puzzles await within, as you hunt the items within its labyrinth, feed them to the Infinity Core and, hopefully, escape!

It’s been a much loved map on Java Edition, but it’s been updated for its Marketplace debut with new room designs, new puzzles, tools and mobs, and a brand new procedurally generated underground section with additional challenges and traps. Plus, you can play it on your phone! Convenient.

Have a looksie yourself!

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