Tag Archives: Creators

Long-form content finds a home at Microsoft’s Story Labs | Special Edition Ragan’s PR Daily Awards

Website

Crew of content creators found stories, people and ideas to share.

Winner: Microsoft News Center

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Microsoft Story Labs epitomizes what a content-driven site can be. For that, it’s won first place in the “Website” category of PR Daily’s 2017 Content Marketing Awards.

Story Labs is all about long-form storytelling that doesn’t rub Microsoft in the reader’s face; rather, Microsoft’s technologies play a role in the stories but take a backseat to the stories themselves. 

Story Labs is a “boutique internal agency and creative SWAT team within the company’s communications/marketing division,” composed of journalists, designers, producers, animators, artists and photographers devoted to “finding the most interesting stories, people, and ideas from across the company and sharing them with the world through best-in-class storytelling.” 

Meandering through the site produces delightful surprises, such as an animated guide to blockchain, a look inside Microsoft’s Building 87 (which houses three futuristic hardware labs), a story on a Detroit wallpaper organization(which doesn’t mention Microsoft or any of its products, but shows one of the designers using a Microsoft computer in an image) and a visit with artist Hugh MacLeod (showcasing his illustrated guide to life at Microsoft). 

Anybody looking for a model content portal should check out this website.

Congratulations to Steve Wiens, Thomas Kohnstamm, Michael Wann and Doug Dawson. 

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What’s new in Hyper-V for Windows 10 Fall Creators Update?

Windows 10 Fall Creators Update has arrived!  While we’ve been blogging about new features as they appear in Windows Insider builds, many of you have asked for a consolidated list of Hyper-V updates and improvements since Creators Update in April.

Summary:

  • Quick Create includes a gallery (and you can add your own images)
  • Hyper-V has a Default Switch for easy networking
  • It’s easy to revert virtual machines to their start state
  • Host battery state is visible in virtual machines
  • Virtual machines are easier to share

Quick Create virtual machine gallery

The virtual machine gallery in Quick Create makes it easy to find virtual machine images in one convenient location.

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You can also add your own virtual machine images to the Quick Create gallery.  Building a custom gallery takes some time but, once built, makes creating virtual machines easy and consistent.

This blog post walks through adding custom images to the gallery.

For images that aren’t in the gallery, select “Local Installation Source” to create a virtual machine from an .iso or vhd located somewhere in your file system.

Keep in mind, while Quick Create and the virtual machine gallery are convenient, they are not a replacement for the New Virtual Machine wizard in Hyper-V manager.  For more complicated virtual machine configuration, use that.

Default Switch

The switch named “Default Switch” allows virtual machines to share the host’s network connection using NAT (Network Address Translation).  This switch has a few unique attributes:

  1. Virtual machines connected to it will have access to the host’s network whether you’re connected to WIFI, a dock, or Ethernet. It will also work when the host is using VPN
    or proxy.
  2. It’s available as soon as you enable Hyper-V – you won’t lose internet setting it up.
  3. You can’t delete or rename it.
  4. It has the same name and device ID on all Windows 10 Fall Creator’s Update Hyper-V hosts.
    Name: Default Switch
    ID: c08cb7b8-9b3c-408e-8e30-5e16a3aeb444

Yes, the default switch does automatically assign an IP to the virtual machine (DNS and DHCP).

I’m really excited to have a always-available network connection for virtual machines on Hyper-V.  The Default Switch offers the best networking experience for virtual machines on a laptop.  If you need highly customized networking, however, continue using Virtual Switch Manager.

Revert! (automatic checkpoints)

This is my personal favorite feature from Fall Creators Update.

For a little bit of background, I mostly use virtual machines to build/run demos and to sandbox simple experiments.  At least once a month, I accidently mess up my virtual machine.  Sometimes I remember to make a checkpoint and I can roll back to a good state.  Most of the time I don’t.  Before automatic checkpoints, I’d have to choose between rebuilding my virtual machine or manually undoing my mistake.

Starting in Fall Creators Update, Hyper-V creates a checkpoint when you start virtual machines.  Say you’re learning about Linux and accidently `rm –rf /*` or update your guest and discover a breaking change, now you can simply revert back to when the virtual machine started.

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Automatic checkpoints are enabled by default on Windows 10 and disabled by default on Windows Server.  They are not useful for everyone.  For people with automation or for those of you worried about the overhead of making a checkpoint, you can disable automatic checkpoints with PowerShell (Set-VM –Name VMwithAutomation –AutomaticCheckpointsEnabled) or in VM settings under “Checkpoints”.

Here’s a link to the original announcement with more information.

Battery pass-through

Virtual machines in Fall Creators Update are aware of the hosts battery state.

imageThis is nice for a few reasons:

  1. You can see how much battery life you have left in a full-screen virtual machine.
  2. The guest operating system knows the battery state and can optimize for low power situations.

Easier virtual machine sharing

Sharing your Hyper-V virtual machines is easier with the new “Share” button. Share packages and compresses your virtual machine so you can move it to another Hyper-V host right from Virtual Machine Connection.

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Share creates a “.vmcz” file with your virtual hard drive (vhd/vhdx) and any state the virtual machine will need to run.  “Share” will not include checkpoints. If you would like to also export your checkpoints, you can use the “Export” tool, or the “Export-VM” PowerShell cmdlet.

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Once you’ve moved your virtual machine to another computer with Hyper-V, double click the “.vmcz” file and the virtual machine will import automatically.

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That’s the list!  As always, please send us feedback via FeedbackHub.

Curious what we’re building next?  Become a Windows Insider – almost everything here has benefited from your early feedback.

Cheers,
Sarah

The Fall Creators Update Brings Us Closer to a Windows for Everyone

By Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Chief Accessibility Officer


Today, with the launch of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, Microsoft is taking a big step forward on our journey to make our products more accessible and empower people with disabilities. Our teams have been working tirelessly to build inclusive content and expand the usability of core accessible features. The Windows 10 Fall Creators Update delivers a ton of new features and experiences, some of which are mind blowing! But of course, I’m most excited by the updates, improvements and new tools for people with disabilities, and I want to share a few of my favourites with you.

First, let’s talk Eye Control. The Windows 10 Fall Creators Update will deliver a beta version of Eye Control, which empowers people with disabilities to use a compatible eye tracker, such as a Tobii Eye Tracker, to operate an on-screen mouse, keyboard and text-to-speech experience in Windows 10 using only their eyes. Eye Control began as a hack project during our One Week Hackathon, turned into a Microsoft Research project and ultimately became a product concept in the Windows team. It is an early feature set so we are really keen to hear from you as we continue to work on this input vehicle. So please, check it out and continue to share your feedback!

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An audio description of the video is also available.

We’ve also made updates to some products you may know and recognize that are already part of Windows 10. That includes new Learning Tools (also, originally a Hackathon project) capabilities in Microsoft Edge. Learning Tools are a set of features that make it easier for people with learning differences like dyslexia to read. In this update, we’ve added the ability to simultaneously highlight and listen to text in web pages and PDF documents to make it easier to read. These new solutions also make it easier not just for English language learners and people with dyslexia, but for everyone, to increase their focus, to improve their comprehension and to reduce their error rate when reading.

Another is Dictation on the Desktop. Already, this feature allowed people with vision, mobility and cognitive disabilities to speak into the microphone, and convert that using Windows Speech Recognition into text that appears on screen. In the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, you can now use dictation to input English text on the desktop. Besides dictating text, you can also use voice commands to do basic editing or to input punctuation.

It’s not just about productivity at work in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update – we want to make sure the time you spend online for fun is just as accessible and inclusive! We added a feature to our screen reader in Narrator that uses Microsoft Cognitive Services to generate image descriptions for pictures that lack alternative text. For websites or apps that don’t have alt-text built in, this feature will provide quick and accurate descriptions of an image. We also listened to your feedback and made it possible to use Magnifier with Narrator, so you can zoom in on text and have it read aloud.

Another one of my absolute favourite developments is a new feature for people with colour blindness, which affects approximately 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women around the world. Color Filters are designed to improve the usability for people with colour blindness so they can more easily differentiate between colours like red and green. Consuming content is easier and since this feature works at the system level, all installed software and third-party apps will follow the filter you set up. Color Filters are available in greyscale, invert, greyscale inverted, Deuteranopia, Protanopia or Tritanopia.

There is so much goodness to digest in this update and we’re definitely excited about it. I’m thrilled at how far we’ve come since the initial launch of Windows 10, including enhancements with the Windows 10 Creators Update. At that time, we promised to invest in updates to improve the user experience for people with disabilities and I hope you’re seeing the progress. In July 2016, we shared the offer to extend the free Windows 10 upgrade. This extended availability is now coming to a close, as we’ll wrap this offer at the end of 2017. Please take advantage of this offer before it is retired at the end of this year!

It’s an exciting day for Windows users, and we hope that you’ll try out the new features and provide your feedback. This is how we make our products better and we want to learn from you. Don’t forget, if you are a customer with a disability (of any kind) and need technical assistance, the Disability Answer Desk is there to assist via phone, chat and in the United States, we also have an ASL option for our customers in the Deaf and hard-of-hearing community (503-427-1234).

Go create!

Indie Up! The First Wave of Creators Program Games Are Available Now

Back in March, we unveiled the Xbox Live Creators Program. Starting today, I’m excited to announce that any developer can directly publish their games to Xbox One and Windows 10. And, the first wave of games from the Creators Program are live right now for everyone on Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs! This is an important step for Team Xbox as we continue to deliver a large and diverse lineup of games from creators big and small from around the world.

I’d like to tell you a little bit about the Creators Program, what it means for games to be available in the Creators Collection, why developers should signup, what gamers can expect, and look at some of the first games available starting today.

First, what is the Creators Program? Xbox empowers game developers large and small to create different types of games for every type of players. It’s all about offering a diverse range of games, and this program has that for sure! The Creators Program was established to enable developers to directly publish their games – any of their games – to Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs, with a simplified certification process and no concept approval required.

Developers that publish through the Creators Program have the freedom and independence to develop games that are truly unique, resulting in a collection with games that can be quirky and have varying degrees of polish, but are always interesting.

Here’s a quick look at the first titles that will be available via the program:

  • Animal Rivals, Blue Sunset Games: Animal Rivals is an action-packed couch party game for one to four players. Drop into the game and fight for the Animalonia’s throne as one of the furry contenders in different mini-games and locations. Game itself presents a unique art style mixing the cartoonish looks and satire approach. (Xbox One, Windows 10)
  • Block Dropper, Tresiris Games: Block Dropper is a fast paced, arcade style, 3D platformer. Try not to fall as you guide your character through the challenging single player mode or grab a friend to battle head to head in a local multiplayer Block Battle Arena. Tresiris is a small game studio based in Olathe, Kansas, who create fun and simple games with quality as their top priority. (Xbox One, Windows 10)
  • Crystal Brawl, Studio Mercato: Gauntlet meets NBA Jam in Crystal Brawl, a 2v2 capture-the-flag local multiplayer game that melds fast action with MOBA-like strategy. Choose from a variety of characters with different abilities, with a notable twist: each character has a unique ability that alters the terrain. Experiment with different character combinations to uncover hidden strategies! Studio Mercato is an independent game studio based in New York City. (Xbox One, Windows 10)
  • Derelict Fleet, Bionic Pony: Derelict Fleet is a fast-paced space combat game. You are tasked with defending a refugee fleet as you travel the stars searching for a new colony to call home. Bionic Pony is a small indie studio based in Tampa, FL that started making Xbox Live indie games in 2010. (Xbox One)
  • ERMO, Nonostante: ERMO is a relaxing puzzle game featured with a calming and peaceful graphics. Immerse yourself in the landscapes and colors of ERMO and let you be carried away. You will learn the rules in a few seconds, but ERMO will catch you for hours. (Xbox One)
  • GalactiMAX!, ONLYUSEmeFEET: In the vast darkness of space, GalactiMAX has the player shooting aliens for points to pierce the heavens in classic arcade shooter action! As more aliens are defeated, the player’s ship will increase in size and power. How big can this ship get?! (Xbox One, Windows 10)
  • kubic, Pixel Envision Ltd: kubic is a relaxing optical illusion puzzle game based on M.C. Escher’s art, impossible objects and other geometric designs. The object is to construct the goal configuration from a number of pieces. (Xbox One, Windows 10)
  • Space Cat!, GershGamesLLC: Shoot your way past an onslaught of enemies and bosses. Collect weapon upgrades like missiles, bombs, laser beams and much more. GershGamesLLC is a group of young hobbyists that makes for fun on the weekends. (Xbox One, Windows 10)
  • Stereo Aereo, The Stonebot Studio: Stereo Aereo is an action rhythm game that is inspired by the pop-culture influences of the 80’s. You, the player, have to make sure that the mediocre space rockband Stereo Aereo, gets to their life changing concert, on time, in this comic styled sci-fi game. (Xbox One, Windows 10)

Where can you find the games? On Windows 10 the games are in the Games category of the Store. On Xbox One, the games can be found in the Creators Collection, a special section of the Xbox One Store which you can find in the Games section. Why a special section? We think it’s awesome to open up development to anyway with no barriers – no traditional certification, no “concept approval,” and no limitations. But we also listened to feedback from players, parents and developers who let us know they love the curated store experience on Xbox One. This gives us all the best of both worlds: A curated store and a fully open marketplace in the Creators Collection.

For developers, publishing games through the Creators Program is easy. First, you can take advantage of tools you’re already using; like a retail Xbox One console, the free Dev Mode Activation app from the Xbox Store, and game engines like Unity, Construct 2, MonoGame, and Xenko. Second, there are minimal barriers to the program; use a Microsoft Developer account which can cost as little as $20, download the Xbox Live Creators SDK, create your game, and then ship it through a short and simplified certification process. That’s it!

Games published through the Creators Program have access to the full set of social features from Xbox Live, including sign-in and presence, use of your Gamertag, leaderboards, access to your Activity Feed, Game Hubs, Clubs, Party Chat, Game DVR, and broadcasting on Mixer.

As an open program, Creators Program games don’t have access to Achievements, Gamerscore, or internet multiplayer. To access those features, professional developers can go through the [email protected] program. Of course, there’s a path for games to move from the Creators Program to [email protected] during development (or even after they reach the Store) if a developer decides they want to add Gamerscore, Achievements, or internet multiplayer.

While [email protected] was designed for professional game developers who wish to use the full set of Xbox Live features through a full certification process, the Creators Program makes publishing a game accessible to anyone. Whether they’re small or budding studios, hobbyists, makers, teachers and students, or if they’re just learning the ropes – the Creators Program is a simplified way to create and ship games to the Xbox community.

We hope players will enjoy the games in the Creators Collection. You’ll find creative games, some familiar styles, and some brand-new experiences; really, whatever these imaginative developers chose to make. Gamers can expect the Creators Collection on their Xbox One, and the Window Store on their PC, to regularly add new games as developers finish their work. And these are unfiltered games directly from the developers themselves, so your feedback is of course welcomed.

This is just the beginning. We’ll be sure to spotlight more of the diverse array of Creators Program games that catch our eyes right here on Xbox Wire. I can’t wait to see all the games that these developers will create, and of course, I can’t wait to play them. Stay tuned for more, and in the meantime, have fun!