Chris Capossela, Microsoft’s Chief Marketing Officer, Cindy Rose, UK Chief Executive, and Senior Store Manager John Carter welcomed the public by giving speeches in front of the doors on Regent Street.
Rose said the store was a “symbol of Microsoft’s enduring commitment to the UK”, which allows people to “experience the best the company has to offer”. “Thank you for helping us make history today,” she added.
People had started queuing along Regent Street from 7am to see Microsoft’s Surface devices, HoloLens, Xbox Gaming Lounge and sit in the McLaren Senna on the ground floor.
One customer, Blair, had started queuing at 7:30am after travelling from Wiltshire by bus. “I’m a Microsoft fan but I especially love Xbox. I heard there would be a few games from [videogame event] E3 here,” he said. “I really want to have a go in the McLaren Senna.”
Denise, from Sutton, was interested in seeing the Surface devices. “I want to see the latest technology and products that Microsoft has in there. I might buy a new laptop today.”
Callum, from London, also wanted to sit in the McLaren Senna. “I play a lot of Forza, so I want to experience the car and the Xbox Gaming Lounge,” he said.
James, from Reading, wanted to see how the store could help businesses. “I’m excited to see what it’s like,” he said. “I want to see what they can offer businesses. The outside of the store looks incredible; it’s a masterpiece of architecture.”
Microsoft handed out free T-shirts and Xbox Game Pass codes to people in the queue, while the first 100 visitors to buy a Surface Pro 6 were also given a free limited edition Liberty Surface Type Cover.
At 11am, the curtains in the store windows dropped to reveal excited store staff, dressed in red, green, yellow and blue shirts – the colours of Microsoft’s logo – jumping up and down and cheering.
The customers walked into a store with a modern feel, with lots of space and wood and glass surfaces. They were greeted by staff standing in front of a large video wall and Surface devices on tables, with the McLaren on their right and the HoloLens mixed-reality headset to their left. A wooden spiral staircase or lifts took them to the first floor, where they could play the latest Xbox and PC titles in high-quality gaming chairs and professional pods in the Gaming Lounge, purchase third-party laptops and accessories and get tech support, trainings, repairs and advice from the Answer Desk, or go to the Community Theatre where coding workshops were taking place. Visitors could create their own personalised Surface Type Cover with Surface Design Lab, featuring a range of designs that can be etched directly onto the cover. They also took photos in the Selfie Area.
The enterprise area on the second floor is a place to support, train and grow businesses no matter where they are on their digital transformation journey. From small companies and educational institutions to enterprise customers, the Product Advisors and Cloud Technical Experts will help customers discover, deploy and use Microsoft 365 and other resources to solve business challenges such as AI, data security, collaboration and workplace efficiencies. This floor also contains an area for hosting events, as well as meeting rooms and a Showcase space for demonstrating how customers, including Carlsberg and Toyota, are digitally transforming.
It is also the most accessible store Microsoft has ever opened, with store associates collectively speaking 45 languages, buttons to open doors, lower desks to help those in wheelchairs andXbox Adaptive Controllersavailable for gamers with restricted movement.
Administrators may not be familiar with the Cubic congestion control provider, but Microsoft’s move to make this the default setting in the Windows networking stack means IT will need to learn how it works and how to manage it.
When Microsoft released Windows Server version 1709 in its Semi-Annual Channel, the company introduced a number of features, such as support for data deduplication in the Resilient File System and support for virtual network encryption.
Microsoft also made the Cubic algorithm the default congestion control provider for that version of Windows Server. The most recent preview builds of Windows 10 and Windows Server 2019 (Long-Term Servicing Channel) also enable Cubic by default.
Microsoft added Cubic to Windows Server 2016, as well, but it calls this implementation an experimental feature. Due to this disclaimer, administrators should learn how to manage Cubic if unexpected behavior occurs.
Why Cubic matters in today’s data centers
Congestion control mechanisms improve performance by monitoring packet loss and latency and making adjustments accordingly. TCP/IP limits the size of the congestion window and then gradually increases the window size over time. This process stops when the maximum receive window size is reached or packet loss occurs. However, this method hasn’t aged well with the advent of high-bandwidth networks.
For the last several years, Windows has used Compound TCP as its standard congestion control provider. Compound TCP increases the size of the receive window and the volume of data sent.
Cubic, which has been the default congestion provider for Linux since 2006, is a protocol that improves traffic flow by keeping track of congestion events and dynamically adjusting the congestion window.
A Microsoft blog on the networking features in Windows Server 2019 said Cubic performs better over a high-speed, long-distance network because it accelerates to optimal speed more quickly than Compound TCP.
Enable and disable Cubic with netsh commands
Microsoft added Cubic to later builds of Windows Server 2016. You can use the following PowerShell command to see if Cubic is in your build:
Technically, Cubic is a TCP/IP add-on. Because PowerShell does not support Cubic yet, admins must enable it in Windows Server 2016 from the command line with the netsh command from an elevated command prompt.
Netsh uses the concepts of contexts and subcontexts to configure many aspects of Windows Server’s networking stack. A context is similar to a mode. For example, the netsh firewall command places netsh in a firewall context, which means that the utility will accept firewall-related commands.
Microsoft added Cubic-related functionality into the netsh interface context. The interface context — abbreviated as INT in some Microsoft documentation — provides commands to manage the TCP/IP protocol.
Prior to Windows Server 2012, admins could make global changes to the TCP/IP stack by referencing the desired setting directly. For example, if an administrator wanted to use the Compound TCP congestion control provider — which was the congestion control provider since Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 — they could use the following command:
netsh int tcp set global congestionprovider=ctcp
Newer versions of Windows Server use netsh and the interface context, but Microsoft made some syntax changes in Windows Server 2012 that carried over to Windows Server 2016. Rather than setting values directly, Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2016 use supplemental templates.
In this example, we enable Cubic in Windows Server 2016:
netsh int tcp set supplemental template=internet congestionprovider=cubic
This command launches netsh, switches to the interface context, loads the Internet CongestionProvider template and sets the congestion control provider to Cubic. Similarly, we can switch from the Cubic provider to the default Compound congestion provider with the following command:
netsh int tcp set supplemental template=internet congestionprovider=compound
Microsoft’s Research Lab in Cambridge UK, back when the lab was first opened in 1997, before being named Lab Director two-and-a-half years ago, so I’ve been involved in growing and shaping the lab for more than two decades. Today my role includes leadership of the MSR Cambridge lab, as well as coordination of the broader Microsoft presence in Cambridge. I am fortunate in being supported by a very talented leadership team and a highly capable and motivated team of support staff.
What were your previous jobs?
My background is in theoretical physics. After graduating from Oxford, I did a PhD in quantum field theory at the University of Edinburgh, exploring some of the fundamental mathematics of matter, energy, and space-time. After my PhD I wanted to do something that would have potential for practical impact, so I joined the UK’s national fusion research lab to work on the theory of magnetically confined plasmas as part of a long-term goal to create unlimited clean energy. It was during this time that there were some breakthroughs in the field of neural networks. I was very inspired by the concept of machine intelligence, and the idea that computers could learn for themselves. Initially I started applying neural networks to problems in fusion research, and we became the first lab to use neural networks for real-time feedback control of a high-temperature fusion plasma.
In fact, I found neural networks so fascinating that, after about eight years working on fusion research, I took a rather radical step and switched fields into machine learning. I became a Professor at Aston University in Birmingham, where I set up a very successful research lab. Then I took a sabbatical and came to Cambridge for six months to run a major, international programme called “Neural Networks and Machine Learning” at the Isaac Newton Institute. The programme started on July 1, 1997, on the very same day that Microsoft announced it was opening a research lab in Cambridge, its first outside the US. I was approached by Microsoft to join the new lab, and have never looked back.
What are your aims at Microsoft?
My ambition is for the lab to have an impact on the real world at scale by tackling very hard research problems, and by leveraging the advantages and opportunities we have as part of Microsoft. I often say that I want the MSR Cambridge lab to be a critical asset for the company.
I’m also very passionate about diversity and inclusion, and we have introduced multiple initiatives over the last year to support this. We are seeing a lot of success in bringing more women into technical roles in the lab, across both engineering and research, and that’s very exciting to see.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
A core part of my job is to exercise judgment in situations where there is no clear right answer. For instance, in allocating limited resources I need to look at the risk, the level of investment, the potential for impact, and the timescale. At any one time there will be some things we are investing in that are quite long term but where the impact could be revolutionary, along with other things that have perhaps been researched for several years which are beginning to get real traction, all the way to things that have had real-world impact already. The hardest part of my job is to weigh up all these factors and make some difficult decisions on where to place our bets.
What’s the best part of your job?
The thing I enjoy most is the wonderful combination of technology and people. Those are two aspects I find equally fascinating, yet they offer totally different kinds of challenges. We, as a lab, are constantly thinking about technology, trends and opportunities, but also about the people, teams, leadership, staff development and recruitment, particularly in what has become a very competitive talent environment. The way these things come together is fascinating. There is never a dull day here.
What is a leader?
I think of leadership as facilitating and enabling, rather than directing. One of the things I give a lot of attention to is leadership development. We have a leadership team for the lab and we meet once a week for a couple of hours. I think about the activities of that team, but also about how we function together. It’s the diversity of the opinions of the team members that creates a value that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Leadership is about harnessing the capabilities of every person in the lab and allowing everyone to bring their best game to the table. I therefore see my role primarily as drawing out the best in others and empowering them to be successful.
What are you most proud of?
Last year I was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, and that was an incredibly proud moment. There’s a famous book I got to sign, and you can flip back and see the signatures of Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, and pretty much every scientist you’ve ever heard of. At the start of the book is the signature of King Charles II who granted the royal charter, so this book contains over three-and-a-half centuries of scientific history. That was a very humbling but thrilling moment.
Another thing I’m very proud of was the opportunity to give the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures. The Royal Institution was set up more than 200 years ago – Michael Faraday was one of the early directors – and around 14 Nobel prizes have been associated with the Institution, so there is a tremendous history there too. These days it’s most famous for the Christmas Lectures, which were started by Faraday. Ever since the 1960s these lectures have been broadcast on national television at Christmas, and I watched them as a child with my mum and dad. They were very inspirational for me and were one of the factors that led me to choose a career in science. About 10 years ago, I had the opportunity to give the lectures, which would have been inconceivable to me as a child. It was an extraordinary moment to walk into that famous iconic theatre, where Faraday lectured many times and where so many important scientific discoveries were first announced.
One Microsoft anecdote that relates to the lectures was that getting selected was quite a competitive process. It eventually came down to a shortlist of five people, and I was very keen to be chosen, especially as it was the first time in the 200 year history of the lectures that they were going to be on the subject of computer science. I was thinking about what I could do to get selected, so I wrote to Bill Gates, explained how important these lectures were and asked him whether, if I was selected, he would agree to join me as a guest in one of the lectures. Fortunately, he said yes, and so I was able to include this is my proposal to the Royal Institution. When I was ultimately selected, I held Bill to this promise, and interviewed him via satellite on live television during one of the lectures.
What inspires you?
I love the idea that through our intellectual drive and curiosity we can use technology to make the world a better place for millions of people. For example, the field of healthcare today largely takes a one-size-fits-all approach that reactively waits until patients become sick before responding, and which is increasingly associated with escalating costs that are becoming unsustainable. The power of digital technology offers the opportunity to create a data-driven approach to healthcare that is personalised, predictive and preventative, and which could significantly reduce costs while also improving health and wellbeing. I’ve made Healthcare AI one of the focal points of the Cambridge lab, and I find it inspiring that the combination of machine learning, together with Microsoft’s cloud, could help to bring about a much-needed transformation in healthcare.
What is your favourite Microsoft product?
A few years ago, the machine learning team here in Cambridge built a feature, in collaboration with the Exchange team, called Clutter. It sorts out the email you should pay attention to now, from the ones that can be left to, say, a Friday afternoon. I love it because it’s used by tens of millions of people, and it has some very beautiful research ideas at the heart of it – something called a hierarchical Bayesian machine learning model. This gives it a nice out-of-the-box experience, a sort of average that does OK for everybody, but as you engage with it, it personalises and learns your particular preferences of what constitutes urgent versus non-urgent email. The other reason I’m particularly fond of it is that when I became Lab Director, the volume of email in my inbox quadrupled. That occurred just as we were releasing the Clutter feature, so it arrived just in time to save me from being overwhelmed.
What was the first bit of technology that you were excited about?
When I was a child I was very excited about the Apollo moon landings. I was at an age where I could watch them live on television and knew enough to understand what an incredible achievement they were. Just think of that Saturn launch vehicle that’s 36 storeys high, weighs 3,000 tonnes, is burning 15 tonnes of fuel a second, and yet it’s unstable. So, it must be balanced, rather like balancing a broom on your finger, by pivoting those massive engines backwards and forwards on hydraulic rams in response to signals from gyroscopes at the top of the rocket. It’s that combination of extreme brute force with exquisite precision, along with dozens of other extraordinary yet critical innovations, that made the whole adventure just breath-taking. And the filtering algorithms used by the guidance system are an elegant application of Bayesian inference, so it turns out that machine learning is, literally, rocket science.
Microsoft’s venture fund, M12, partners with EQT Ventures and SVB Financial Group to accelerate funding for women leaders
REDMOND, Wash. — July 26, 2018—M12, Microsoft Corp.’s venture fund, in collaboration with the EQT Ventures fund and SVB Financial Group, on Thursday announced the Female Founders Competition, seeking to accelerate funding for top women-led startups focused on enterprise technology solutions. Two winners will share $4 million in venture funding, as well as access to technology resources, mentoring and more.
Women entrepreneurs receive a disproportionately small amount of venture funding, with only 2.2 percent of the total invested in 2017 going to women-founded startups. Studies have shown that investing in companies founded by women delivers significantly higher returns than the market average. By shining a light on this highly talented, but underfunded group of entrepreneurs, M12 and its partners seek to not only fund innovative female entrepreneurs, but to spotlight the funding gap that exists and the benefits of more equitable distribution of capital.
“We formed M12 to make smart bets on innovative people and their ideas, and the Female Founders Competition is an extension of that mandate,” said Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of Business Development at Microsoft. “This isn’t about checking a box; it’s an opportunity to remind the VC community that investing in women is more than just good values, it’s good business.”
“The EQT Ventures team is all about backing founders with the ambition, drive and vision to build a global success story,” said Alastair Mitchell, partner and investment advisor at EQT Ventures. “This competition reflects this and offers women entrepreneurs a great platform from which to launch their business, providing them with access to capital and mentorship. It also raises awareness of the funding gap between male and female founders, and the EQT Ventures team wants to play an active role in bridging that gap.”
Submissions will be accepted from July 26, 2018, to Sept. 30, 2018, and open across three regions: Europe, Israel, and North America (U.S., Canada and Mexico). Companies will be eligible to apply if they have at least one woman founder, have raised less than $4 million in combined equity funding and/or loans at day of application, and offer or intend to release a product, service or platform that addresses a critical business problem.
“At SVB, we strive to help innovative companies succeed,” said Tracy Isacke, head of Corporate Venture at Silicon Valley Bank. “Research tells us diverse teams are more successful. We believe this is true for our business, our clients’ businesses and the innovation economy at large. Our partnership with Microsoft has created a great opportunity for SVB to engage in this competition and is one of the many ways we are supporting diverse representation in the global innovation ecosystem.”
Up to 10 finalists will pitch in person for the chance to be one of the two startups that earn a $2 million investment as well as access to technology resources, mentoring and additional support. The competition also seeks to drive greater awareness for both finalists and winners, with the potential for future funding from the broader VC community. Full guidelines and contest information can be found on M12’s application page.
About EQT Ventures
EQT Ventures is a European VC fund with commitments of just over €566 million. The fund is based in Luxembourg and has investment advisors stationed in Stockholm, Amsterdam, London, San Francisco and Berlin. Fueled by some of Europe’s most experienced company builders, EQT Ventures helps the next generation of entrepreneurs with capital and hands on support. EQT Ventures is part of EQT, a leading investment firm with approximately EUR 50 billion in raised capital across 27 funds. EQT funds have portfolio companies in Europe, Asia and the US with total sales of more than EUR 19 billion and approximately 110,000 employees.
About SVB Financial Group
For 35 years, SVB Financial Group (NASDAQ: SIVB) and its subsidiaries have helped innovative companies and their investors move bold ideas forward, fast. SVB Financial Group’s businesses, including Silicon Valley Bank, offer commercial and private banking, asset management, private wealth management, brokerage and investment services and funds management services to companies in the technology, life science and healthcare, private equity and venture capital, and premium wine industries. Headquartered in Santa Clara, California, SVB Financial Group operates in centers of innovation around the world. Learn more at svb.com.
As the corporate venture arm for Microsoft, M12 (formerly Microsoft Ventures) invests in enterprise software companies in the Series A through C funding stage. As part of its value-add to portfolio companies, M12 offers unique access to strategic go-to-market resources and relationships globally. Visit https://m12.vc/ to learn more.
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Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications for Microsoft, (425) 638-7777, [email protected]
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In an open letter to U.S. law- and policy-makers, Microsoft’s Council for Digital Good is calling on government to address digital-world realities like cyberbullying and “sextortion” by modernizing laws and promoting in-school education to encourage positive online behaviors.
“As young people who have encountered some of these problems firsthand, our goal as the Council for Digital Good is to provide strategies, solutions and resources for other young people in these situations,” council members wrote. “For our sake and for that of future generations, it is imperative that we amplify discussions about making the internet a more productive, civil, and safe place.”
The letter, shared last week at an event featuring the 15-member council at Microsoft’s Innovation and Policy Center in Washington, D.C., touts the benefits of awareness-raising of digital risks. The council also recommends that in-school online safety and behavioral education be supported and prioritized, and requests that laws be updated and brought into the digital age. The letter and its recommendations to policymakers is the culmination of the council’s work after 18 months of other assignments, activities, learning and fun. In addition to the council members and a parent or chaperone who accompanied each of them to the event, the young people also hosted leaders from other technology companies, non-governmental organizations and D.C.-area influentials.
Youth shine in the nation’s capital The event, “Is there a place for civility in our digital future? Conversations with Microsoft’s Council for Digital Good,” featured two panel discussions, comprised of teens sharing their work and views, and two sets of three adult panelists, each responding and reacting to the young people’s presentations. The first panel focused on the state of online civility today and included Christina W., Jazmine H., Judah S. and Miosotis R. These four young people, ages 14 to 17, went above and beyond their regular council assignments, taking it upon themselves to speak in their schools and communities on or around international Safer Internet Day this past February. They then brought those learnings to this panel discussion.
From left, Judah S., Miosotis R., Christina W. and Jazmine H. following their panel discussion.
Christina spoke of the rewarding experience it was to see parents interact with one another after hearing her guidance for staying safer online; Jazmine noted the importance of awareness-raising and education among all groups; and Judah highlighted the importance of respecting age requirements on social media. Miosotis talked about her peer-to-peer outreach in both Florida and Puerto Rico. The adult respondents from Google, Born This Way Foundation and Columbia University were impressed by the young people’s drive, determination and knowledge of the issues.
The second panel focused on building and growing a culture of digital civility. Indigo E., Jacob S. and Sierra W. presented the cohort’s written manifesto for life online first released in January, while Bronte J., Rees D. and William F., unveiled the open letter. Adult respondents from Snap, Inc., Tyler Clementi Foundation and UNICEF posed some provocative and important questions and offered instructive advice for reaching policymakers with their message.
Jacqueline Beauchere summing up after a second panel with Council for Digital Good members and adult respondents.
Erin R., Robert B. and Isabella W. showcased their individual art projects, and Katherine C. and Champe S. shared highlights from their council experiences, and assisted me in opening and closing the event, respectively. These 11 council members range in age from 14 to 18.
“The CDG council members are impressive and inspiring,” said retired U.S. Ambassador Maura Harty, president and CEO of the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children, who attended the event. “Their kindness and maturity are matched by their desire for effectiveness. With their manifesto, they have provided a well-considered road map and a path to greater digital civility for all of us. Emphasizing awareness, skills, and yes, ethics and etiquette, they have modeled the behavior we all should emulate.”
Program highlights importance of the youth voice We assembled this impressive group as part of a pilot program in the U.S., launched in January 2017. The council served as a sounding board for Microsoft’s youth-focused, online safety policy work. Prior to last week’s event, the council met for a two-day summit last August where they each drafted an individual manifesto for life online. They were then tasked with creating an artistic or visual representation of those written works. The written cohort manifesto and a creative cohort manifesto followed, all leading up to the crafting of the open letter and the youth assuming a more visible role as a full group.
As I’ve mentioned before, we thought the in-person portion of the program would conclude after the August summit. But after meeting these youth, we knew it would be a missed opportunity not to bring them together again and in a more public way. We wanted others to appreciate their passion and perspectives and to hear from them in their own words. Indeed, for us at Microsoft, the program underscores the importance of the youth voice and the need for young people to have a say in policy matters – be they governmental or corporate – that affect them. We shared a lot and we’ve learned even more from these youth. I’m planning a more reflective account of the full program soon.
Following the D.C. event, first lady Melania Trump met with the council members, and spent time with each teen personally to learn about their individual creative projects and to hear about the cohort’s 15 online safety tenets.
Afterward, we held a brief capstone event, where we honored each council member for his or her unique contributions to this pilot program. We are excited to learn that many council members want to stay involved in these issues and to remain in contact with us at Microsoft and many of our partner organizations.
As the youth concluded in their open letter: “Now is the time for action, and we need your help in the push for change in online culture. If we gain the ability to always harness the internet in a positive and productive way, we will be able to use our generation’s signature swiftness, effectiveness, and global platform to make a difference.”
Learn more Read the council’s full open letter here; view all of their individual, creative projects at this link, and learn more about digital civility by visiting www.microsoft.com/digitalcivility. Look for our latest digital civility research releases leading up to Safer Internet Day 2019 in February and, until then, follow the Council for Digital Good on our Facebook page and via Twitter using #CouncilforDigitalGood. To learn more about online safety generally, visit our website and resources page; “like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more. Whether or not we succeed depends on our ability to create an inclusive company culture, deliver inclusive products for our customers and show up to the world in an inclusive way.
Recently I spoke at Microsoft’s Ability Summit about five lessons we’ve learned (so far) in our journey to inclusive and accessible marketing. I’m sharing here in hopes they will inspire your own thinking. To learn more about a couple employee-driven accessibility projects coming out of Microsoft’s One Week Hackathon, I encourage you to check out The Ability Hacks, which we published today.
1. Recognize the values case and the business case
People typically think about the values case for accessibility, which makes sense — empowering people with disabilities makes the world work better for everyone. But the business case for accessibility is equally important. According to the World Health Organization, more than 1 billion people worldwide experience some form of disability. In the US alone, that’s nearly 1 in 5 people in 1 in 3 households. If our products don’t work for a billion people, we’re not only failing in our mission, we’re also missing an enormous business opportunity.
2. Proximity powers empathy
We’ve learned the incredible value of investing in programs that bring us closer to customers of different backgrounds. We learn so much and do our best work when we commit to seeing the world from their perspectives.For instance, back at our 2015 Hackathon, a team of Microsoft engineers pitched a project with the lofty ambition of making gaming more accessible to gamers with limited mobility, and so began the journey of the Xbox Adaptive Controller. From the earliest moments, the development team reached out to nonprofits like Warfighter Engaged and AbleGamers to partner and learn how the product of their dreams could address the broadest set of needs in the real world. The team increased community engagement at every milestone, from product design and engineering, to prototype testing with gamers living with disabilities, to designing final retail packaging. The empathy we gained forged the path to a product we’re very proud of, that we hope gamers everywhere love when it arrives this September.
3. Accessibility for few becomes usability for many
We see time and again that our accessibility work starts out focused on enabling a specific set of customers but ends up benefiting everyone. For instance, Microsoft events are a major marketing investment each year, so it’s important our events meet the needs of every attendee, including people living with disabilities. A few years ago, we began live-transcribing event keynotes with the goal of helping attendees who are deaf or hard of hearing more easily follow along with keynotes. To our surprise, we ended up getting far more feedback from attendees who speak English as a second language – live transcription helped them navigate highly technical discussions and fast-paced product demos. Now we provide live transcription services in keynotes at all large Microsoft events and open captioning (and in many cases audio description) in company videos. The positive responses we’ve received speak to the broader, unexpected benefits of embracing accessibility.
There’s value in audience-specific marketing programs, but we’ve learned we get the best results when mainstream marketing programs feature people from a range of audiences, backgrounds and life experiences. For instance, in our most recent AI ad we tell three different customer stories – one on preserving ancient architecture, one on sustainable farming and one on audio visualization AI – all woven together seamlessly as cool examples of how AI is improving lives for people today.
A few years back, we shifted our marketing approach to show technology empowering real people to do real things. As a result, we’ve seen far stronger return on investment than we would hiring actors to depict the stories of others. The video below is a powerful example – it features real students from Holly Springs Elementary in Georgia talking about how Microsoft Learning Tools help them overcome obstacles to reading.
Not only is the story more credible coming from real students, it makes the core empowerment message relatable to more people. This shift in philosophy now guides decisions on who represents Microsoft in our ads, on our website and at our events. In each case, real people sharing real stories is the most effective way to bring the impact of technology to life.
Real people sharing real stories is the most effective way to bring the impact of technology to life.
These are just five of many lessons we’ve learned, and our work is only beginning. We’re energized to keep learning and sharing our biggest lessons, because there’s tremendous value in embracing inclusion and accessibility – for your people, your bottom line, your customers and the world.
With Microsoft’s fourth quarter earnings, we delivered double-digit revenue growth across all segments anchored by the growing success in our commercial cloud as technology helps our customers power their innovation. Recently organizations like GE, PGA, NBA, Marks & Spencer, Starbucks, InMobiBayer and Telefonica shared how they are leveraging cloud and artificial intelligence to support growth and deliver great employee and customer experiences. Across industries and solution areas, here are some of the latest examples.
This week we unveiled a strategic partnership with Walmart as the company’s preferred cloud provider and strategic partner to accelerate its digital transformation in retail. Through a five-year agreement, Walmart has selected the full range of Microsoft cloud solutions, including Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365 for enterprise-wide use, to help standardize across the company’s family of brands. Using a broad base of cloud, AI and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, the company plans to further its mission in creating incredibly convenient ways for customers to shop and empower associates to do their best work.
We announced Campbell Soup Company selected Microsoft Azure. The much-loved soup and snack company announced plans to drive IT transformation with the help a global hybrid cloud solution. Campbell chose Azure to increase the flexibility, agility and resiliency of its always-on IT, provide employees with real-time access to customized information and insights, and optimize its complex supply chain.
At Microsoft Inspire this week, I was also thrilled to feature on stage Carlsberg and its ongoing digital transformation. For 171 years, the Carlsberg Group has been brewing for a better today and tomorrow. Now, the iconic brewery group is leveraging AI and IoT on Azure to bring more science to the craft of beer, increase speed to market and improve quality control through the “Beer Fingerprinting Project.”
Also onstage at Inspire, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella shared how Walt Disney World Resort technology and conservation teams partnered with Microsoft to help develop the “tiniest smart homes” for the songbirds called purple martins. Purple martins are a unique species of bird that travel between South and North America each year to raise a family, but unfortunately their population is in decline. By outfitting birdhouses at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, using Azure IoT Edge with computer vision and building models to recognize important events, Disney scientists are able to learn more about the species and help inspire a new generation of conservationists in the parks. The scientists have unprecedented insight now into the nesting behavior of the purple martins. They are also creating new experiences for guests and have even built an augmented reality game on a tablet to help guests learn about what it takes to be a great purple martin parent.
We are seeing additional momentum in Azure IoT with one of our first customers for the new Azure Sphere. For more than 70 years, Sub-Zero and Wolf have built a legacy of innovation in food preservation and preparation. As the company looks toward the next wave of innovation, along with its new Cove dishwasher brand, Sub-Zero sees an opportunity to create more personalized experiences through connected products. Securing these products over the lifetime of the device is a top priority, and they are planning to use Azure Sphere as a comprehensive solution for future products to address security holistically at every layer.
When it comes to the modern workplace solution, we are seeing continued momentum across customers in the enterprise. The nearly 40,000 employees of Eli Lilly are on a mission to make medicines that help people live longer, healthier, more active lives. That is why Lilly takes a collaborative approach to discovering and developing new medicines — between lab researchers and the rest of the company, as well as with a global network of physicians, medical researchers and healthcare organizations — and has selected Microsoft 365 to bring together scientists across hundreds of locations and organizations and truly empower the workforce.
Across our Windows 10 and Surface business, we see customers taking advantage of how the right device can light up the modern workplace for employees. Melbourne-based infrastructure, building and rail leader John Holland selected 1,200 Surface Pros with LTE to power its field workers across large geographical construction zones. Using cellular and Wi-Fi, the Surface devices seamlessly connect workers with key information like blueprints and documents at project sites. As a Microsoft 365 E5 customer, the company has also deployed Surface Hub and Surface Book 2 devices. By standardizing on Microsoft modern workplace, John Holland is helping deliver a better experience to employees and a higher standard to customers.
With growing investments in Dynamics 365 as our third cloud, we are continuing to drive value for customers across various industries. National Oilwell Varco (NOV), a leading provider of technology, equipment and services for the global oil and gas industry, is deploying Dynamics 365 across its sales and field service networks worldwide. This deployment enables NOV to optimize productivity and minimize downtime by streamlining business processes and delivering a mobile-first approach to field service operations. NOV is investing in state-of-the-art technology and cloud services to deliver premier, customized experiences to customers.
Across every industry, businesses are expanding their digital business. These are just some of the most recent examples of leading enterprises choosing Microsoft solutions to help them transform customer experiences, fuel employee creativity and collaboration, innovate operations and bring new products to market.
Microsoft’s foray into the rapidly growing SD-WAN market could solve a major customer hurdle and open Azure to even more workloads.
All the major public cloud platforms have increased their networking functionality in recent months, and Microsoft’s latest service, Azure Virtual WAN, pushes the boundaries of those capabilities. The software-defined network acts as a hub that links with third-party tools to improve application performance and reduce latency for companies with multiple offices that access Azure.
IDC estimates the software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) market will hit $8 billion by 2021, as cloud computing continues to proliferate and employees must access cloud-hosted workloads from various locations. So far, the major cloud providers have left that work to partners.
But this Azure network service solves a big problem for customers that make decisions about network transports and integration with existing routers, as they consume more cloud resources from more locations, said Brad Casemore, an IDC analyst.
“Now what you’ve got is more policy-based, tighter integration within the SD-WAN,” he said.
Azure Virtual WAN uses a distributed model to link Microsoft’s global network with traditional on-premises routers and SD-WAN systems provided by Citrix and Riverbed. Microsoft’s decision to rely on partners, rather than provide its own gateway services inside customers’ offices, suggests it doesn’t plan to compete across the totality of the SD-WAN market, but rather provide an on-ramp to integrate with third-party products.
Customers can already use various SD-WAN providers to easily link to a public cloud, but Microsoft has taken the level of integration a step further, said Bob Laliberte, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass. Most SD-WAN vendors are building out security ecosystems, but Microsoft already has that in Azure, for example.
This could also simplify the purchasing process, and it would make sense for Microsoft to eventually integrate this virtual WAN with Azure Stack to help facilitate hybrid deployments, Laliberte said.
The Azure Virtual WAN service is billed as a way to connect remote offices to the cloud, and also to each other, with improved reliability and availability of applications. But that interoffice linkage also could lure more companies to use Azure for a whole host of other services, particularly customers just starting to embrace the public cloud.
There are still questions about the Azure network service, particularly around multi-cloud deployments. It’s unclear if customers trust Microsoft — or any single hyperscale cloud vendor — at the core of their SD-WAN implementation, as their architectures spread across multiple clouds, Casemore said.
Azure updates boost network security, data analytics tools
Microsoft also introduced an Azure network security feature this week, Azure Firewall, with which users can create and enforce network policies across multiple endpoints. A stateful firewall protects Azure Virtual Network resources and maintains high availability without any restrictions on scale.
Several other updates include an expanded Azure Data Box service, still in preview, which provides customers with an appliance onto which they can upload data and ship directly to an Azure data center. These types of devices have become a popular means to speed massive migrations to public clouds. Another option for Azure users, Azure Data Box Disk, uses SSD disks to transfer up to 40 TB of data spread across five drives. That’s smaller than the original box’s 100 TB capacity, and better suited to collect data from multiple branches or offices, the company said.
Microsoft also doubled the query performance of Azure SQL Data Warehouse to support up to 128 concurrent queries, and waived the transfer fee for migrations to Azure of legacy applications that run on Windows Server and SQL Server 2008/2008 R2, for which Microsoft will end support in July 2019. Microsoft also plans to add features to Power BI for ingestions and integration across BI models that are similar to Microsoft customers’ experience with Power Query for Excel.
Panos Panay is the betting type. You can see the evidence in Microsoft’s Building 37, where two $1 bills stick out from beneath a Surface tablet sitting on a shelf.
When I ask Panay about the dollars during a recent visit to Microsoft, he says it was a wager he made a few years back on a specific product. I ask if it was a bet on Surface RT, the very first Surface product Microsoft made, and he seems genuinely surprised. “I would have lost that bet, and I’m going to win this one,” he says. “It’s about a product that’s in market right now.” And that’s all he’ll volunteer.
Panay, Microsoft’s chief product officer, isn’t there to talk about the ghosts of Surface’s past, or even the present. Panay wants to talk about his next big bet in the Surface product lineup: the brand-new Surface Go. But to call it “big” would be a misnomer, because the Surface Go was designed to disappear.
If you’ve followed the trajectory of the Surface product line, you might say that the Surface Go previously existed in some form, if not as a prototype then in sketches and leaks and rumors and in our own imaginations. But Panay insists that this new 2-in-1 device is not the offspring of anything else—not the Surface RT, not the Surface 3, and not the Surface Mini (which served as a kind of fever-dream notepad for Panay, but never shipped).
Instead, the new Surface Go is an attempt to bring most of the premium features of a $1,000 Surface Pro to something that’s both ultra-portable and more affordable.
Like a Surface Pro, the Go is a “detachable”—a tablet that attaches to Microsoft’s alcantara Type Cover keyboard. It has the same magnesium enclosure; a bright, high-res touchscreen display that has a 3:2 aspect ratio and is bonded with Gorilla Glass; a kickstand in the back that extends to 165 degrees; support for Microsoft’s stylus pen, which attaches magnetically to the tablet; a Windows Hello face recognition camera, for bio-authentication; two front-facing speakers, an 8-megapixel rear camera; and on and on. It’s a veritable checklist of Surface Go’s external features.
But the Surface Go is tiny. It measures just 9.6 by 6.9 by .33 inches, with a 10-inch diagonal display. It also weighs 1.15 pounds. The first time I saw the Go, Natalia Urbanowicz, a product marketing manager at Microsoft, pulled the thing out of a 10-inch, leather, cross-body Knomo bag to show just how easily it can be tucked away. It’s light enough to mistake for a notebook; the last time I felt that way about a computer was when Lenovo released the YogaBook back in 2016.
The Go also happens to be the least expensive Surface ever. When it ships in early August, it will have a base price of $399. That’s for a configuration that includes 64 gigabytes of internal storage and 4 gigabytes of RAM, and ships with Windows 10 Home in S Mode (the S stands for “streamlined,” which means you can only download apps from the Windows Store). You’ll also have to shell out extra for a Type Cover keyboard and stylus pen.
From there, specs and prices creep up: A Surface Go with 256 gigabytes of storage, 8 gigabytes of RAM, and LTE will cost you more, though Microsoft hasn’t shared how much yet. All configurations have a microSD slot for additional storage too.
The Surface Go is not the first 10-inch Surface that Panay and his team have shipped. The original Surface had a 10.6-inch display. And in 2015, Microsoft released the 10.8-inch Surface 3. It started at $499, and ran a “real” version of Windows, not Windows RT. But it was also underpowered; and, Panay admits now, it had an inelegant charging mechanism.
“To this day I regret the charging port on Surface 3,” Panay says. “I’d convinced myself that this ubiquitous USB 2.0 connector was going to solve the thing people asked me for: Can I just charge it with the charger I already have? And what I learned is that people want a charger with the device, they want a very seamless charging experience…I know that seems small, but I don’t think I can overstate that every single little detail can be a major difference maker.”
Panay says there’s been clear demand for a successor to the Surface 3, which would, by definition, have been the Surface 4. But “that evolution wasn’t right,” he says. “That would be too close to the original Surface Pro, and that’s not what this product should be at all.” Instead, he’s been noodling something like the Surface Go—codenamed “Libra”—for the past three years.
The new Surface Go benefits from all those learnings. It has the same Surface Connect port as the Pro lineup, along with a USB-C 3.1 port for data transfers and backup charging. It’s supposed to get around nine hours of battery life. It also runs on an Intel Pentium Gold processor. This is not one of Intel’s top-of-the-line Core processors, but it’s still a significant jump up from the Cherry Trail Atom processor in the Surface 3.
Pete Kyriacou, general manager of program management for Surface, says Microsoft has worked closely with Intel to tune the processor for this particular form factor. “If you compare the graphics here to the Surface Pro 3 running on an i5 [chip], it’s 33 percent better; and if you compare it to the i7, it’s 20 percent better,” Kyriacou says. “So we’re talking about Pentium processing, but, it’s better from a graphics perspective than a Core processor was just three years ago.”
A lot about the new Surface has been “tuned”—not just the guts of the Go, but its software, too. “We tuned Office, we then tuned the Intel part, we tuned Windows, we made sure that, in portrait, it came to life,” Panay says. “We brought the Cortana [team] in to better design the Cortana box—we went after the details on what we think our customers need at 10 inches.”
There’s usually a tradeoff when you’re buying a computer this small. You get portability at the expense of space for apps and browser windows. The Surface Go has a built-in scaler that optimizes apps for a 10-inch screen, and Microsoft says that it’s working with third-parties to make sure certain apps run great. There’s only so much control, though, you have over software that’s not your own. I was reminded of this when I had a few minutes to use the Surface Go, went to download the Amazon Kindle app in the Windows Store, and couldn’t find it there.
Making the Surface smaller was no small feat, according to Ralf Groene, Microsoft’s longtime head of design. Groene walks me through part of Building 87 on Microsoft’s campus, where the design studio is housed and where Groene’s team of 60 are tasked with coming up with a steady stream of ideas for potential products.
Behind a door that says “Absolutely No Tailgating”—a warning against letting someone in behind you, not a ban on barbecues and cornhole—a small multimedia team makes concept videos. “Before products get made, we have a vision, we have an idea, and we express it in a video,” Groene tells me. If the video is received well by top executives, they know they have a winner. “Since there’s usually a timeline on how long processors are good for, we try to build as many iterations as possible of a product within that timeline.”
Once the Surface Go got the go ahead, Groene’s job became that of a geometrist: How do you fit all this stuff into a 9.6-inch enclosure? Going with magnesium again was an easy choice; it’s up to 36 percent lighter than aluminum, Groene says, and Microsoft has already invested in the machinery needed to work with magnesium. Some of the angles of the Go’s body are softer—Groene calls these “curvatures and radii”—making it more comfortable to hold close for extended time periods, like if you’re reading or drawing.
By far the biggest challenge was the Go’s Type Cover keyboard. The factor that always stays the same is the human, Groene says, and that includes fingers. Shrink a keyboard too much in your quest to make a laptop thin and light, and you’ll inevitably get complaints from people that their fingers are cramped, or that they land on each key with an unsatisfying thud. (Or worse, that the keyboard is essentially broken.)
The Go’s keyboard is undoubtedly smaller than the one that attaches to the Surface Pro. But it still has a precision glass trackpad, and a key travel that Groene says is fractionally less than the key travel on the Pro.
Most notably, the Go’s keyboard uses a scissor-switch mechanism that was designed to give, as Groene describes it, the right “force to fire.” Each key is also slightly dished, a decision that Microsoft made after watching hours of footage of people typing, captured with a high-speed camera. The keys are supposed to feel plush and good under your fingers and not at all like a tiny accessory keyboard. (I only used the keyboard on the Go for a brief period of time, so I can’t really say what it would be like to use the keyboard to, say, type of a story of this length.)
I mention to Groene that Apple has long held the stance that touchscreens aren’t right for PC’s, something that Apple’s software chief Craig Federighi underscored in a recent WIRED interview when he said that they’re “fatiguing.” And yet, Microsoft is pretty committed to touchscreen PCs. What does Microsoft’s research show about how people use touchscreen PCs?
Groene first points out that the Surface laptop is the only one in Microsoft’s product line that has a classic laptop form factor and a touchscreen; the others are detachables, or, there’s the giant Surface Studio PC. But, more to the point, he says, “By offering multiple ways to get things done doesn’t mean that we add things. It’s not like the Swiss army knife, where every tool you put in makes it bigger.”
Sure, if you sit there for eight hours holding your arm up, it will get tired, Groene acknowledges. But that’s not the way people are supposed to use these things. “It’s the same thing with the pen. ‘We don’t need the pen because we are born with ten styluses,’” Groene says, wiggling his fingers, making an oblique reference to a well-known Steve Jobs quote about styluses. “However, having the tool of a pen is awesome when you want to go sketch something.”
“We are trying to design products for people,” he says, “and we don’t try to dictate how people use our devices.”
So who is this tiny Surface Go actually made for? It depends on who you ask at Microsoft, but the short answer seems to be: anybody and everybody.
Urbanowicz, the product marketing manager, says Go is about “reaching more audiences, and embracing the word ‘and’: I can be a mother, and an entrepreneurial badass; I can be a student, and a social justice warrior.” Kyriacou, when describing the Go’s cameras, says to “think about the front line worker in the field—a construction worker, architect, they can capture what they need to or even scan a document.” You can also dock the Go, Kyriacou points out, using the Surface Connect port, which makes it ideal for business travelers. Groene talks about reading, about drawing, about running software applications like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Almost everyone talks about watching Hulu and Netflix on it.
Panos Panay initially has a philosophical answer to this. It’s his “dream,” he says, to just get Surface products to more people. “I mean, that’s not my ultimate dream. But there are these blurred lines of life and work that are happening, and if you collect all that, Go was an obvious step for us.”
The evening before Panay and I chatted, he went to the Bellevue Square shopping center with his son, and at one point, had to pull out his LTE-equipped Surface Go to address what he said was an urgent work issue. His son asked if it was a new product, and Panay, realizing the blunder of having the thing out in public, tucked the Go in his jacket. To him, that’s the perfect anecdote: The lines between work and family time were blurred, he had to do something quickly, and when he was done, he could make his computer disappear.
Panay’s team also has a lot more insight into how people are using Surface products than it did eight years ago, he says, when Surface was still just a concept being developed in a dark lab. To be sure, Microsoft has been making hardware for decades—keyboards, mice, web cameras, Xbox consoles. But when Microsoft made the decision to start making its own PCs (and ultimately, take more control over how its software ran on laptops), it was a new hardware category for the company. It was a chance to get consumers excited about Microsoft again, not just enterprise customers.
The first few years of Surface were rocky. The first one, known as Surface RT, seems to be something that Microsoft executives would rather forget about; I don’t see it anywhere in the product lineups that Microsoft’s PR team has laid out ahead of my visit. Its 2012 launch coincided with the rollout of Windows 8, which had an entirely new UI from the previous version of Windows. It ran on a 32-bit ARM architecture, which meant it ran a version of the operating system called Windows RT. Depending on who you ask, the Surface RT was either a terrible idea or ahead of its time. (Panay says it was visionary.) Microsoft ending up taking a massive write-down on it the following year.
Since then, Microsoft has rolled out a series of Surface products that, due to the company’s design ethos, a newer operating system, and plain old Moore’s Law, have only gotten better. In 2013 it introduced the Surface Pro line, which are still detachables, but are built to perform like a premium laptop and can cost anywhere from $799 to $2,600. There’s the Surface Book line; the Surface Book 2 starts at $1,199 and clocks in around 3.5 pounds, making it a serious commitment of a laptop. The Surface Studio is a gorgeous, $2,999, all-in-one desktop PC, aimed at creative types. The Surface Laptop is Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s MacBook Air. It starts at $799, and got largely positive reviews when it launched last year.
Even still, Microsoft’s Surface line has struggled to make a significant dent in the market for personal computing. HP and Lenovo dominate the broader PC market, while Apple leads in the tablet category (including both detachables and slate tablets).“From a shipment perspective, the entire Surface portfolio has been fairly soft,” says Linn Huang, an IDC research director who tracks devices and displays. “It was growing tremendously, and then the iPad Pro launched and Surface shipments have either been negative, year-over-year, for the past several quarters, or flat.”
Microsoft has new competition to worry about, too: Google’s inexpensive Chromebooks, which in a short amount of time have taken over a large share of the education market.
“Do I think about Chromebooks? Absolutely,” Panay says, when I ask him about them. “Do I think about iPads? Absolutely. I use multiple devices. It’s exhausting. But this product is meant to bring you a full app suite.” Panay is highlighting one of the drawbacks of lightweight Chromebooks: Their lack of local storage. Meanwhile, he says, Surfaces are designed to let people be productive both locally on the device, and in the cloud when they need to work in the cloud.
And, while Panay says he’s keeping an eye on Chromebooks, he insists that Microsoft didn’t build Go to compete with Chromebooks. That said, Surface Go will have a school-specific software option: IT administrators for schools can choose whether they want a batch of Go’s imaged with Windows 10 Pro Education, or Windows 10 S mode-enabled.
Panay wouldn’t comment on Microsoft’s plans for the future beyond Surface Go, although there have long been rumors of a possible Microsoft handheld device, codenamed Andromeda. If the Surface Go is something of a return to a smaller, 10-inch detachable, then a pocketable device that folds in half, one that could potentially run on an ARM processor, would be something of a return to mobile for Microsoft. Qualcomm has also been making mobile chips that are designed to compete directly with Intel’s Core processors for PCs.
For now, though, Panay is throwing all his chips behind the Surface Go, and making a big bet that this little device is the one that will make the masses fall in love with Surface. He tends to chalk up past Surface products, even the ones that didn’t do well, as simply before their time. Now, with the Go, he says, “it’s time.”
As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Microsoft’s new intelligent visual search technology allows users to discover information about objects captured in images without having to pick and choose a handful of keywords to fit into a search box.
“Sometimes, it is almost impossible to describe what you want to search for using words,” explained Vince Leung, product lead for Bing Images at Microsoft.
For example, imagine hiking through a meadow and seeing a flower that you’ve never seen before. You want to know what it is and whether you can get it at your local garden store to plant at home. Bing’s Visual Search can help you identify and find more information from your snapshot of the flower.
Or, perhaps you’re in the market for a new couch and spot one you like in a high-end home furnishing store, but the price tag is beyond your budget. By taking a picture of the couch, Bing’s Visual Search can help you find couches that match the style with prices that may meet your budget.
The visual search feature uses Microsoft’s computer vision algorithms, which are trained with datasets containing vast amounts of labeled images, as well as images from around the web. From the training images, the algorithms learn to recognize dogs from cats, for example, and roses from daisies.
What’s more, the learning process is never done; the performance of the algorithms improves as they get more data.
“While there have been strides for many years to get to this point,” noted Leung, “with the advent of cloud computing we are able to accelerate our ability to make sense out of pixels.”
John Roach writes about Microsoft research and innovation. Follow him on Twitter.