Tag Archives: DoMore

A week to soar: Innovation on display at Worldwide Partner Conference, parties planned for Windows 10 release and Special Olympics athletes on the move – Weekend Reading: July 17 edition

It was a high-flying week at Microsoft, and if you blinked, you missed it. That’s why we’re here, to give you a recap of some of the week’s most important (and fun) goings-on, so let’s get to it:

The Worldwide Partner Conference got down to business. New technology innovations were showcased, including Project GigJam and the Cortana Analytics Suite, demonstrating Microsoft’s ambition to reinvent productivity and business processes, build the intelligent cloud and create more personal computing. Attendees got a peek at how one of Microsoft’s partners, Autodesk, will use HoloLens to fundamentally change how design professionals create, communicate, visualize and work. With many partners transitioning their businesses to the cloud, Microsoft is also making investments to make those transitions more seamless.

Satya Nadella at WPC 2015

Get ready to party with the launch of Windows 10. On July 29, when Windows 10 is released, festivities around the world are planned, with thousands of retailers participating, including all Microsoft store locations. Microsoft will also begin a year-long initiative, “Upgrade Your World,” to celebrate the people and organizations making a difference around the world. Microsoft will partner with 10 global and 100 national nonprofits as part of the initiative. The global nonprofits include CARE, Code.org, Keep a Child Alive, Malala Fund, Pencils of Promise, Save the Children, Special Olympics, The Global Poverty Project and The Nature Conservancy.

Windows 10

It’s time to shine for the stars of the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games, which start July 25 in Los Angeles. This week we met two outstanding athletes: 21-year-old Daniel Wolff of Great Britain, who will run the 4×100-meter relay; and 23-year-old Xing Le of China, who will compete in rhythmic gymnastics. Microsoft is sponsoring both the summer games and the 2017 World Winter Games in Austria. Last fall, the company announced a three-year, multi-million dollar partnership with Special Olympics to modernize the nonprofit’s technology and elevate it to the cloud.

Changing the face of coding, even as you read this. Women in U.S. colleges and universities earn only 18 percent of computer science degrees. That’s why Microsoft YouthSpark supports Girls Who Code, a national nonprofit organization that aims to close the gender gap in technology in the United States. Microsoft sponsors and helps implement the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program, happening this year in 60 locations across the country and reaching 1,200 girls who are learning computer science skills, and everything from robotics to mobile development to HTML coding.

Girls Who Code, Changing the Face of Coding

Microsoft’s PhotoDNA technology, a free service that helps identify and remove online child sexual abuse photos, is now available in the cloud. It’s a major advance that gives companies like Flipboard a powerful way to help protect young victims while helping make the Internet safer for everyone. PhotoDNA has already helped detect millions of illegal photos on the Internet, with more than 70 companies and organizations – like Facebook and Twitter – already using it. But the previous, on-premise version required time, money and technical expertise to get up and running and keep up-to-date. The new PhotoDNA Cloud Service takes away those hurdles for smaller companies and other organizations that want to give users the freedom to upload content while ensuring the integrity of their platforms.

U.S. Air Force chooses Office 365, and Microsoft acquires FieldOne. The U.S. Air Force, in partnership with the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), is awarding more than 100,000 seats of a Department of Defense-dedicated version of Office 365 to Microsoft, Dell and General Dynamics. The agreement, expected to help the Air Force and DLA reduce costs significantly over the next three years, is one of the largest commercial cloud contracts in DoD history. Meanwhile, Thursday it was announced that Microsoft has reached an agreement to acquire FieldOne Systems LLC, a world-class provider of field service management solutions that allow organizations to better manage and deliver service to their customers in the field.

government, Office 365, U.S. Air Force

Are you air-borne yet? No? Strap into an anti-gravity vehicle and race to glory in the futuristic and free game, “Fast Side of the Moon.” You can play alone, or compete with up to 20 other racers in multiplayer mode. Zoom to exotic planets and take on challenging courses. You’ll find “Fast Side of the Moon” in the Windows Phone Store.

"Fast Side of the Moon" game, Windows PhoneThis week on our journey to find people who #DoMore, we met Neal Sales-Griffin, who runs the Starter School in Chicago. In just nine months, Neal gives students the power of coding – turning them from consumers of technology to creators of technology.

#DoMore, Instagram

Thanks for joining us for Weekend Reading. Have a great weekend, and we’ll see you back here next Friday!

Posted by Suzanne Choney
Microsoft News Center Staff

Realmadrid App for passionate fans, tools to fight human trafficking and new research to keep data safe in the cloud – Weekend Reading: May 22nd edition

Welcome to another edition of Weekend Reading. Microsoft technology and employees played big roles in many ways this week, from powering the passion of soccer fans to building a “lockbox in the cloud” to connecting students thousands of miles apart. Before you start your holiday weekend, take a quick spin through the news.

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Microsoft and Real Madrid C.F. continued their technological revolution of futbol and the club with the release of the Realmadrid App, a new way for the club’s 450 million passionate, global fans to connect with their favorite team.

Built on the Microsoft Cloud platform, the app features multi-angle match viewing, fan competitions, game replays, comprehensive player and team stats, and lots more.

“The new app truly empowers the fans’ passion no matter where they are in the world,” writes Orlando Ayala, Microsoft chairman and corporate vice president of Emerging Businesses. Part of a vision to digitally transform the sports industry, the app is available for Windows Phone, IOS and Android.

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Microsoft technology also has a key role in a completely different arena: combatting human trafficking. Arthur Thomas (A.T.) Ball, Microsoft’s managing director of Public Safety and National Security in Asia, highlighted the company’s efforts to “help disrupt the global scourge of human trafficking.”

The efforts include the work by the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit and PhotoDNA, an image-matching technology that helps identify and rescue online child pornography victims.

It was a big week for Microsoft researchers, who debuted their “lockbox in the cloud,” a new system to store data in the cloud, even when it’s being accessed to make calculations.

The new technology, called Verifiable Confidential Cloud Computing or VC3, gives an extra layer of security to companies that safeguard very sensitive information, such as financial data or personal records. The innovative project was released Monday at the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy.

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Have a giant to-do list? Good thing Office is continuing its transformation into a cross-platform, cross-device solution to help you get more done. The Preview of Office apps for Android phones debuted this week, combining the familiar look and quality of Office with a touch-friendly design for Android phones.

Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents open and render beautifully, and navigation is easy for on-the-go reading, reviewing and editing.

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Microsoft’s new Tech Talent for Good program again lived up to its name, when a group of Microsoft employees used their tech skills to support troops and their families at a recently remodeled USO center at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

The employees prepped 20 Surface tablets with updated software and apps for the center, so soldiers, sailors and their families can use them at the airport while traveling. Being able to email, Skype with a loved one, or play “Call of Duty” and “Minecraft” helps ease the journey.

Skype

Skype in the Classroom also helped connect people thousands of miles of apart. Independent journalist Anna Therese Day helped students on the Pacific island of Kiribati Skype with students in Seattle, while reporting on the impact of climate change on the island’s future.

Timid at first, the Kiribati students sang songs in English and talked about their chores, which included feeding the pigs. That prompted one Seattle boy to exclaim, “You guys get to have pigs?!”

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In app and game news (besides the Realmadrid App), visual stunner “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt” became available for Xbox One. The new Salesforce App for Outlook became available for free. And this week’s Red Stripe Deals went old-school, with discounts for “Dragon’s Lair,” a flashback to the ‘80s arcade game, and “Final Fantasy III,” whose first title dates back to the early ‘90s.

Finally, on our global adventure to find people who #DoMore on the Microsoft Instagram page, we met Jeremy Lacy, the artist behind Downshift Studio, a collection of motorcycle and car concept designs he creates with the help of a Surface Pro 3.

domore

Thanks for reading and we’ll see you next week!

Posted by Vanessa Ho
Microsoft News Center Staff

Microsoft Hyperlapse releases, Windows 10 editions and Detroit entrepreneurs – Weekend Reading: May 15 Edition

This week saw the release of Microsoft Hyperlapse, a new set of products that create smooth, stabilized time lapses from first-person videos. For consumers, Microsoft Hyperlapse Mobile turns any long video – from a bumpy bicycle ride to a family stroll in the park – into a short, distilled version easily shared with friends and family. For professional shooters and serious video enthusiasts, Microsoft Hyperlapse Pro creates a hyperlapse using a Windows computer from video shot on any camera or device – including drone footage. A third product, Hyperlapse for Azure Media Services, lets developers integrate hyperlapse options into websites and apps. Read the full story to get all the details – including how an idea born in the mountains became a reality – and check out the project website, where you can find links to download the apps.

On Wednesday, Microsoft announced the Windows 10 editions, designed to deliver a more personal computing experience across a range of devices. The editions are: Windows 10 Home, the consumer-focused desktop edition for PCs, tablets and 2-in-1s; Windows 10 Mobile, for smaller, mobile touch-centric devices like smartphones and small tablets; Windows 10 Pro, a desktop edition for PCs, tablets and 2-in-1s with extra features to meet the needs of small businesses; Windows 10 Enterprise, which builds on Windows 10 Pro, adding advanced features for medium- and larger-sized organizations; Windows 10 Education, designed for school staff, administrators, teachers and students; and Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise, designed to deliver the best customer experience to business customers on smartphones and small tablets.

Jason Gittinger, second from right, started the Detroit School of Rock and Pop Music. Photo by Ami Vitale.

Jason Gittinger, second from right, started the Detroit School of Rock and Pop Music. Photo by Ami Vitale.

The Detroit School of Rock and Pop Music, founded by musicians Jason and Sherry Gittinger, is part of an entrepreneurial scene reviving metropolitan Detroit. The school teaches students not just to rock out, but to collaborate, persevere and ignite a passion for learning.

Staff Sgt. Sarah Stimpson, pictured here with her daughter, Apprimay, found a new team mission in helping the members of her Microsoft Software & Systems Academy cohort successfully transition to civilian careers.

Staff Sgt. Sarah Stimpson, pictured here with her daughter, Apprimay, found a new team mission in helping the members of her Microsoft Software & Systems Academy cohort successfully transition to civilian careers.

On Monday, 31 participants graduated from the Microsoft Software and Systems Academy (MSSA) at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) in Tacoma, Washington. Two of those graduates, Staff Sgt. Sarah Stimpson and Special Forces Chief Warrant Officer Travis Myers, shared their experience in the program and their goals for life after military service. MSSA is a full-time, 16-week IT job skills training program for active duty U.S. military service members who have received their separation date. The goal is to help each service member transition to high-quality careers in the IT industry, as well as to meet the economy’s demand for workers with computer science training. It works by combining technical education and training, career guidance and mentorship from Microsoft employees who are former service members.

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Students showed off their brainpower in all kinds of creative ways this week. Microsoft’s U.S. Imagine Cup National Finals gave students from around the country a chance to turn their cool ideas into reality and, for three winning teams, a shot at being in this year’s world competition and winning a $50,000 prize. Microsoft also hosted the Student Tech Fair at Loft One in New York on Wednesday to celebrate Microsoft YouthSpark Stars — student innovators using technology in impactful ways — and to showcase the latest Microsoft technology for students. Head to the Windows Blog and Microsoft YouthSpark to learn more about these amazing young people and discover Microsoft resources for students.

Marriott International

Marriott International

Owners of Windows Phone devices, PCs and tablets got more apps and games to download. The App of the Week, Marriott International, makes mobile check-in and checkout easy, while Plague Inc. arrived on Windows Phone and “Talking Ginger” pounced into the Windows Store. Bargains also came through the weekly Red Stripe Deals.

Veronica Ura Iturralde

Veronica Ura Iturralde

This week on our global adventure to find people who #DoMore on the Microsoft Instagram page, we met the founders of Beyond Beanie, a social clothing company whose mission is to help children in need and empower women artisans like Veronica.

Thanks for checking out this edition of Weekend Reading. See you next week!

Posted by Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff

Microsoft Ignite lights up the modern workforce with new products and services – Weekend Reading: May 8 Edition

Ignite 2015

Craighton Berman’s sketch of Satya Nadella’s keynote at Ignite 2015.

Ready to take a breath? Do it now before we dive into the news from this week, dominated by the announcements from Microsoft’s first Ignite conference. More than 23,000 attended in Chicago and thousands more watched online, learning how IT now means “innovation” and “transformation” – for all of us in the modern workforce.

The modern workforce is a more apt description than the modern workplace – a misnomer, said Gurdeep Singh Pall, corporate vice president of Skype engineering. “Work is what you do; it’s not where you go,” he said. “People will work from wherever they are, with whatever devices they have, and they’ll work on their own time.” Creating services for, and protecting, that modern workforce was front and center at Ignite.

Office 2016 Public Preview, now available, shows how Office has “shifted from ‘me-centric’ to ‘we-centric’ work,” says Julia White, general manager for the Office marketing team. In Office 2016, all Office content is saved to and shared from OneDrive by default; and content can be created and edited using real-time co-authoring, which is coming to Word 2016 desktop. Office 2016 will offer new security, compliance and deployment features that give organizations more control over sensitive data, and IT more flexibility in deployment and management. SharePoint Server 2016 and Exchange Server 2016, also showcased at Ignite, deliver new capabilities across areas including user experiences, compliance and reporting.

Office 2016, Ignite 2015

Real-time co-authoring for Word will be available soon in the Office 2016 Public Preview.

Windows Update for Business, introduced at Ignite, will empower IT pros to keep the Windows devices in their organization “always up to date with the latest security defenses and Windows features,” says Terry Myerson, executive vice president, Operating Systems Group. Windows Update for Business will include features such as “distribution rings,” where an IT pro can specify which devices go first in an update wave, and which ones come later; and “maintenance windows,” to specify the critical timeframes when updates should and should not happen. Windows Update for Business will be free for Windows Pro and Windows Enterprise devices.

Need to have a meeting with a lot – and we mean a lot – of workers in lots of different places? Skype for Business broadcasting, introduced at Ignite and coming later this year, enables customers to broadcast meetings to up to 10,000 people.

At Ignite, we also said hello to the next-generation hybrid cloud, Microsoft Azure Stack, in preview this summer. It brings the Azure user experience and both infrastructure- and platform-as-a-service capabilities into customers’ datacenters. We also learned that SQL Server 2016 preview is coming this summer, with Always Encrypted, Stretch Database and more. Always Encrypted protects data at rest and in motion, and Stretch Database allows you to “dynamically stretch your warm and cold transactional data to Microsoft Azure, so your operational data is always at hand, no matter the size,” says T.K. Ranga Rengarajan, Data Platform, Cloud & Enterprise corporate vice president.

There was other big news this week: Surface 3 became available in the U.S. and many countries around the world. This sharp-looking sibling to the Surface Pro 3 has a 10.8-inch screen with a 3:2 aspect ratio, includes front- (3.5MP) and rear-facing (8MP) cameras which both capture 1080p video; and runs full Windows, including desktop applications. It includes a one-year subscription to Office 365.

The ‘next wave’ of empowerment everywhere. Writer Tracy Ith took us behind the scenes of the fifth annual Microsoft Ability Summit this week, where Microsoft engineers, designers and other tech pros worked with people with disabilities from inside and outside the company, as well as parents and other accessibility advocates to “create that next wave of great products and services” to empower people, says Jenny Lay-Flurrie, senior director of the Trusted Experience Team and leader of the summit.

Microsoft Ability Summit

Jay Beavers’ face is reflected in a device that can drive a wheelchair using eye gaze technology. Credit: Scott Eklund

Safety tested – and relies on Microsoft’s cloud. Writer Jennifer Warnick brought us into the heart of the Illinois headquarters of the 120-year-old UL (formerly Underwriters Laboratories), where 22 billion products, systems and materials are stamped with the UL sign of approval for safety each year. It’s populated by lab spaces “full of circuits and light bulbs, slot machines and hospital beds, ovens and clothes dryers, wires and building materials, bank machines and bulletproof glass.”

Bob Jamieson in UL's “rain room,” where waterproof products are tested.

Bob Jamieson in UL’s “rain room,” where waterproof products are tested. Photo by Brian Smale / © Microsoft

This week on our global adventure to find people who #DoMore on the Microsoft Instagram page, we met Jessi Combs. She is the world’s fastest woman – on four wheels. In 2013, she set the record with a heart-pumping speed of 406 miles per hour.

#DoMore, Instagram,

That’s it for this edition of Weekend Reading. Time to breathe now, and enjoy your 48 hours off before you rejoin the modern workforce – wherever that it is for you.

Posted by Suzanne Choney
Microsoft News Center Staff

Microsoft support for veterans, data collaboration with NOAA and Microsoft Band update for cyclists – Weekend Reading: April 24 edition

From supporting veterans to helping kids learn to code, it was a busy week for Microsoft news, so let’s get started with today’s edition of Weekend Reading.

Obama Joining Forces

Microsoft joined Michelle Obama Thursday to celebrate the four-year anniversary of the Joining Forces initiative, a White House project that supports service members, veterans and their families in education, work and wellness.

The company helps veterans through the Microsoft Software & Systems Academy, a 16-week program that teaches tech skills to active-duty service members to help them transition into high-paying IT careers.

“We will continue to do our part and welcome others in the IT industry to join us on this journey, as we renew our commitment to honoring the service of those who sacrificed so much by helping them make that leap from one great career in the military to another — in the exciting world of technology,” wrote Janell Toppen, Microsoft senior program manager for Military Affairs. Toppen joined the first lady for the celebration at Micron Technology in Manassas, Virginia.

In other federal news, Microsoft will host weather, climate, ocean and water data on the Microsoft Azure Government cloud platform as part of a new collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The development is a significant step toward open data.

Microsoft will be an anchor collaborator with NOAA, which wants to make its vast amount of data more accessible. The collaboration will allow government and private groups to use Azure Government to improve and create solutions, from better tracking of infectious diseases to faster weather forecasts.

Microsoft health band

Data-loving health and fitness buffs (you know who you are) can now track even more stats with new updates to Microsoft Band and Microsoft Health. Microsoft Band now works with two popular bike apps, Strava and MapMyRide, letting cyclists compare ride performances and share bike routes with each other.

Microsoft Health now has an expanded dashboard that compares your daily steps and calories burned with those of other Microsoft Health users. The dashboard can also help you analyze your sleep efficiency and progress in cardiovascular fitness.

Outlook for Android

Microsoft launched Outlook for Android out of preview Wednesday, making it available in all markets supported by the Google Play Store. The launch came after 17 updates to January’s preview release and is an example of Office’s new development model of turning user feedback into great mobile apps.

This release of Outlook for Android has an improved look and feel, with updated icon sets and simplified fonts. It also uses common Android design principles like the Navigation Drawer for a natural, integrated experience.

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Microsoft’s Stories team published “The Ultimate Wingmen,” a terrific, behind-the-scenes profile of four hard-working, get-‘er-done administrative assistants: Genise Dawson (pictured), Scott Roberts, Nancy Malm and Kousy Ramkumar. This is how writer Jennifer Warnick hooks readers into the story:

“They eat chaos for breakfast. They routinely make the impossible possible. They are the steely scaffolding of companies the world over, including Microsoft. They’re the ultimate wingmen. They’re … administrative assistants.”

After you read the story, go thank any admins in your life, and not just because Administrative Professionals Week ends Saturday.

Break Into Code

It’s never too early to be a technology creator, which is why Microsoft Imagine – a Microsoft YouthSpark program – launched the new Break into Code! challenge for kids ages 9 to 18. Kids can use free software and tutorials to create a game in about an hour and then customize and remix it. They can submit the game to the Break into Code! contest to compete for a total of $12,000 in cash prizes.

For inspiration, “Smash Champs,” the App of the Week, should do the trick. From the makers of “Subway Surfers,” the new game delivers exciting, cinematic fight scenes as you become a trainer, prepare for combat and lead your Champs to victory.

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Finally, this week on our global adventure to find people who #DoMore on the Microsoft Instagram page, we met Emily Moberly. She’s the founder of Traveling Stories, a nonprofit on a quest to outsmart poverty, one book at a time.

DoMore_EmilyM

Thanks for checking out this edition of Weekend Reading, and we’ll see you next week.

Posted by Vanessa Ho
Microsoft News Center Staff

Microsoft’s carbon fee, US Imagine Cup Finals and Detroit revitalization – Weekend Reading: April 17 Edition

Welcome back to another edition of Weekend Reading. We kick it off with stories about developments as a result of Microsoft’s three-year-old carbon fee, exciting ideas from the U.S. Imagine Cup finalists and Detroit entrepreneurs who are revitalizing the city.

Microsoft is improving environments and creating healthier lives through an internal carbon fee the company established three years ago that holds all its business groups financially responsible for the cost of reducing and compensating for their carbon emissions. The money collected through this fee has purchased more than 10 billion kilowatt-hours of green power, reduced company emissions by 7.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, saved more than $10 million per year and reached more than 3.2 million people through the purchase of carbon offsets from community projects around the world.

The Huebotics team created a challenging puzzle game.

The Huebotics team created a challenging puzzle game.

U.S. Imagine Cup finalists bring bright ideas to next week’s competition in San Francisco, such as an app that matches students with tutors, a system to enhance virtual reality and a brain-teasing game. The annual technology competition gives students a chance to learn from Microsoft business, technical and design experts as they work to turn their creative ideas into reality. Winners from the U.S. event April 22-24 will move on to the Imagine Cup World Semifinals, where they’ll vie for a spot at the Imagine Cup World Finals in Seattle this July.

Detroit Bikes master builder Henry Ford II. (Photo by Ami Vitale.)

Detroit Bikes master builder Henry Ford II. (Photo by Ami Vitale.)

Then there was this story about Detroit entrepreneurs like Detroit Bikes, who are helping revitalize the city. Once the automotive center of the world, Detroit emerged from bankruptcy last year and is on the long road of tackling its blight, crime and poverty. A key part of its recovery is a lively entrepreneurial scene that’s revitalizing downtown Detroit with tech startups, investors, artisans, foodies, shop owners and transplants. Among them are Zak Pashak, the founder and president of Detroit Bikes, who moved to Detroit from Calgary with a mission to renew manufacturing in the city. With the work of master builder Henry Ford II, he’s making tools to help people get around and contributing to the revival of a once great American city.

Computer science “was a lot more creative than I originally thought it would be,” says Harika Dabbara, one of the graduates of last summer’s Girls Who Code program on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington. (Photo courtesy of Abby Huang.)

Computer science “was a lot more creative than I originally thought it would be,” says Harika Dabbara, one of the graduates of last summer’s Girls Who Code program on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington. (Photo courtesy of Abby Huang.)

The Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program will return to Microsoft’s campus. Harika Dabbara attended last summer’s Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program, a free, seven-week computer science education program offered to rising junior and senior girls in cities around the U.S. Dabbara was among the 20 girls in the Seattle area who attended the program on Microsoft’s Redmond campus. Microsoft YouthSpark will host the program again this summer on campus and also in San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Boston. The goal of the nonprofit Girls Who Code organization is to close technology’s gender gap – which is considerable. Microsoft is one of the tech companies that sponsor, host and implement the program, which this year is expanding nationwide from 19 programs reaching 375 girls, to 60 programs reaching 1,200.

FH_Datazen

Microsoft announced Tuesday the acquisition of Datazen Software, an industry leader in mobile business intelligence and data visualization on Windows, iOS and Android devices. Datazen is optimized for SQL Server Analysis Services and the overall Microsoft platform, enabling rich, interactive data visualization and KPIs on all major mobile platforms: Windows, iOS and Android. SQL Server Enterprise Edition customers with version 2008 or later and Software Assurance can now download the Datazen Server software for free. As a result, millions of people around the world are now be able to visualize and interact with data on their mobile devices, using the native mobile apps available at no charge at the respective app stores.

The latest addition to the Halo universe arrived in a big way with “Halo: Spartan Strike,” which launched on Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, iPhone, iPad and Steam. We also got a new batch of Red Stripe Deals, updates to apps and games, the App of the Week, “My Talking Tom” and “Car Racing 3D High on Fuel.”

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And, this week on our global adventure to find people who #DoMore on the Microsoft Instagram page, we met Devin Sinha. By day, he works as a Microsoft engineer in Seattle, and by night he is the lead singer and guitarist in an indie band.

Thanks for checking out this edition of Weekend Reading. See you next week!

Posted by Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff

Skype Translator speaks Mandarin and Italian, Build 2015 plans a road tour, Star Wars movie collection comes to Xbox – Weekend Reading: April 10 Edition

The Force is with us big-time this week: We’ve got stories about Skype Translator debuting in Mandarin and Italian, Build 2015 making a first-ever road tour worldwide, and all six Star Wars films being available digitally for the first time on Xbox Video.

Skype Translator adds two more languages, Mandarin and Italian, joining Spanish and English in the preview program. Adding Mandarin Chinese is quite a feat; it’s a “very challenging language to learn, even for Skype Translator,” noted Yasmin Khan in a Skype blog post. “With approximately 10,000 characters and multiple tones, this is one of the most difficult languages for a native English speaker to master, along with Arabic, Japanese and Korean.” Microsoft researchers and scientists in Beijing, China, worked very closely with their U.S.-based colleagues to build the recognition, language and translation models for Mandarin.

Build is doing a road trip! Build 2015, the developers’ conference April 29-May 1 in San Francisco, is sold out, but if you want to see some of Microsoft’s latest technologies and hear Build speakers in person, you’re in luck: Build is going on the road. The Build Tour, from May 18 through June 15, will come to 10 cities around the world: London, New York, Atlanta, Austin, Sao Paulo, Berlin, Mexico City, Singapore, Auckland and Sydney.

Build 2015, developers

Pay it forward by helping teach computer science to high schools students. High schools around the country are in desperate need of your computer science smarts if you’re an engineer, software developer or programmer. An easy way to connect your talent and skills is through Microsoft’s volunteer TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools) program. More than 475 TEALS volunteers across the nation now are team-teaching Computer Science 101 and AP Computer Science with classroom teachers in more than 130 schools. Applications are being accepted through May 1. TEALS founder Kevin Wang shares appreciative comments from TEALS students at a recent event.

TEALS, education, computer science

A student participates in a coding activity during a recent TEALS field trip.

All six Star Wars films are available, starting today, for the first time on Digital HD and on Xbox. Also newly available is the Netflix original series “Marvel’s Daredevil.” For Star Wars, exclusives are being offered for Xbox customers who purchase the saga on Xbox Video, including R2-D2 as an Xbox Live avatar and the action-packed Star Wars Pinball Pack for the free-to-play game “Pinball FX 2” for Xbox One or Xbox 360. In “Marvel’s Daredevil,” join Matt Murdock – blinded as a young boy but imbued with extraordinary senses – as he fights injustice by day as a lawyer, and by night as the Super Hero Daredevil. It’s Marvel’s first original series on Netflix, and is the first of four series to come.

Star Wars, Xbox

Office 365 introduced Exchange Online Advanced Threat Protection, a robust email filtering service that protects against specific types of advanced threats, including unknown malware and viruses. The system extends the protection already available in Office 365’s Exchange Online Protection. Also in Office news this week: Office Online and Dropbox expanded their ongoing partnership with integration between Dropbox on the Web and Office Online. Now you can browse, open and edit files in Dropbox online with Office Online. You can also create new files in Office Online and save directly to your Dropbox.

Our app of the week is the new Shazam, which makes exploring, buying and sharing music even easier for Windows Phone users. You can now preview favorite Shazams with Xbox Music Playbox and add your favorite songs from Shazam’s Charts to the My Shazam section. Meanwhile, if you’re just starting your taxes (*looks at self*), get some help from Mint, MSN Money and other apps, including TaxCaster, which lets you quickly calculate your estimated tax refund. If, after your tax prep, you’re not in the mood to cook for real, you can still have some fun with the game, “Toca Kitchen 2,” with some crazy new food combinations to try out. Or just let it go, and play the updated “Frozen Free Fall,” with 45 new birthday levels, three new game modes and dazzling dresses.

Shazam, Windows Phone, apps

This week on our global adventure to find people who #DoMore on the Microsoft Instagram page, we traveled to Brazil, where we met Rodrigo Rodrigues, a man of many passions. Follow us on Instagram to see his story.

DoMore, Instagram

That’s it for this edition of Weekend Reading. May the Force be with you for a great weekend, and we’ll see you next Friday!

Posted by Suzanne Choney
Microsoft News Center Staff

New Surface 3, ‘Mad Men’ podcast and Project Spartan – Weekend Reading: April 3 Edition

Welcome back to another edition of Weekend Reading, with stories about the newly introduced Surface 3, a Next at Microsoft podcast featuring one of the “Mad Men” and the inclusion of the new Project Spartan browser in the latest build of the Windows 10 Technical Preview.

Microsoft on Tuesday announced the Surface 3, which features the same beautiful design and premium materials as Surface Pro 3 in a more compact and efficient package. At just 8.7 mm thin and weighing 1.37 pounds, the Surface 3 is the thinnest and lightest Surface yet. The 3:2 aspect screen ratio first introduced on Surface Pro 3 is also used here. It runs full Windows, including desktop applications, and includes a one-year subscription to Office 365. Surface 3 starts at $499 and will be on sale starting May 5, but is available for pre-order now. It will also be available in a mobile broadband version, Surface 3 (4G LTE).

The latest episode of the Next at Microsoft podcast is now available and fans of “Mad Men” should tune in to find out more about actor Rich Sommer, who plays Harry Crane on the show. Sommer speaks to David Chen about his gaming obsession, on both computers and physical boards. He has a collection of more than 800 of the latter. He also shares insights into his work on the show and in other TV, film and voice-over roles — like how he uses Skype to work from anywhere.

The new Project Spartan Web browser is available for the first time for Windows Insiders to try out as part of the latest Windows 10 Technical Preview build for PCs. Project Spartan is designed to work the way you do, with features enabling you to write or type on a Web page. It’s a browser made for easy sharing, reading, discovery and getting things done online. Project Spartan also includes some new rendering engine updates in this flight, including preview support for responsive images.

Microsoft released Office Lens for iPhone and Android phones Thursday, giving more smartphone users access to the popular capture app. Office Lens, one of the most popular free apps for Windows Phone users, turns your smartphone into a pocket scanner so you can digitize receipts, business cards, sticky notes and other documents.

"Jigsaw Puzzle HD"

“Jigsaw Puzzle HD”

We kicked off the week with the Indie Game Spotlight, which regularly shows off the work of a community of independent developers building titles for Windows Phone, PCs and tablets, like “Jigsaw Puzzle 3D.” We also got a new batch of Red Stripe Deals and the latest App of the Week, “Solitaire Mystery: Stolen Power.” Other notables: the My Very Hungry Caterpillar 3D interactive app and Windows Phone map apps that help you find your way.

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This week on our global adventure to find people who #DoMore on the Microsoft Instagram page, we met Ana Dodson. She is the founder of Peruvian Hearts, a nonprofit organization that empowers girls in Cusco and the Sacred Valley through education and mentoring.

Thanks for checking out this edition of Weekend Reading. Hope spring has finally sprung, wherever you are. See you next week!

Posted by Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff

Convergence 2015: big data, small patterns, better business — Weekend Reading: March 20 Edition

Where to start this week? With so much going on at Microsoft’s annual Convergence business community summit, held this year in Atlanta, we could almost call this week’s edition: “Convergence CliffsNotes.” Let’s get to it.

Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella kicked off the premiere business event, Monday, with a keynote address highlighting how businesses can use data to help predict trends and better understand their customers, which can lead to greater demand for their products and services as well as increased customer loyalty. “In a world of big data, small patterns matter,” he said.

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Also on Monday at Convergence, Microsoft unveiled Azure IoT Suite, a cloud-based tool for the Internet of Things as well as other tools that “push the edge of what’s now possible,” wrote Judson Althoff, Microsoft North America president, on The Official Microsoft Blog. In addition, Power BI and Office Delve are being rolled out globally, and Microsoft is bringing business collaboration to a whole new level through Skype for Business, with a technical preview unveiled Monday.

Giving our customers a chance to fall in love with products by giving them a free version – not just a trial version. That was one of six strategies for transforming the company’s marketing strategy shared by Chris Capossela, Microsoft executive vice president and chief marketing officer, in a keynote address at Convergence 2015. Other key, foundational themes for Microsoft’s marketing transformation over the past 18 months? Building marketing into products; using modern storytelling; having the world’s best data platform; using ad platforms, not ad campaigns; and having Microsoft’s brand play a bigger role, Capossela said.

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Speaking of great storytelling, Microsoft News Center’s Athima Chansanchai penned a couple of terrific pieces this week outlining real-world examples of how businesses are using Microsoft technology to be better. Big box giant Lowe’s used AccuWeather’s detailed forecasting to get its trucks out ahead of this winter’s challenging conditions and get much-needed home-fortifying supplies to their stores. Lowe’s is one of AccuWeather’s customers using the Microsoft Cloud to drive mission-critical enterprise solutions. Similarly, Los Angeles-based WASH Multifamily Laundry Systems uses Microsoft Dynamics to measure the company’s performance. Dynamics allows parts inventory, active service calls, collections and other daily operations to feed into one system, which everyone from an executive to a service tech can draw from to do their jobs better.

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Actually, there were a couple other items of note this week, beyond all of the excitement in Atlanta. Windows 10 will launch this summer in 190 countries and 111 languages around the world, Terry Myerson, Microsoft executive vice president of the Operating Systems group, announced Wednesday at the Windows Hardware Ecosystem Community (WinHEC) summit in China.

Also this week, Microsoft introduced the Lumia 430 Dual SIM, its most affordable Lumia phone, Thursday, making smartphone ownership a reality for more people around the world. With an estimated retail price of $70, the phone is built with the latest Windows Phone 8.1 software, which will be able to upgrade to Windows 10, and comes pre-loaded with Microsoft Office, Skype and OneDrive.

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In apps news, Madefire, the free comic book reader that transforms digital comics into interactive experiences with 360-degree panoramic views, is now available on Windows Phone. The Xbox Music app now lets you listen to music and playlists you’ve saved in OneDrive on your Windows Phone, PC and tablet. Or, if you’d rather listen to others sing, and battle for the opportunity to be famous doing it, cast your vote for NBC’s The Voice contestants and see results in real time using the The Voice Official App, now available on Windows Phone.

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This week on our global adventure to find people who #DoMore on the Microsoft Instagram page, we met Gisele Agnew, who is transforming lives through yoga and making candles to empower others.

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Here’s hoping this edition of Weekend Reading has inspired you to get out there, and do great things. See you next week.

Posted by Aimee Riordan
Microsoft News Center Staff