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Microsoft set a vision to empower transitioning military service members and the veteran community with the opportunity to receive relevant training that could lead to meaningful careers. On Monday, the company held its ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA) on Marine Corps Base Quantico. With the program’s growing availability, service members from coast to coast will be able to participate in technical training and career development. MSSA Quantico will focus specifically on meeting the growing demand for cybersecurity professionals.
The ceremony, which was held at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, started with welcoming remarks from Col. Joseph M. Murray, Commander, Marine Corps Installations National Capital Region – Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. Other speakers included U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman; Dr. Barry Butler, president of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU); Marc Langlois, senior director, Department of Navy at Microsoft; and Brig. Gen. Kurt W. Stein, director of Marine and Family programs, Headquarters Marine Corps.
“Your courage. Your dedication to others. Your ability to work together as a tight knit team. Your adaptability and accountability – these are qualities you have developed in the most challenging of environments,” said Marc Langlois, senior director, Department of Navy at Microsoft, speaking to the first cohort of students for MSSA Quantico.
“MSSA Quantico Cohort A, we don’t just think you are ready to learn. We know you are ready.”
Rep. Wittman also spoke to the group about the importance of programs like MSSA to train our transitioning service members and veterans.
“What a great combination of innovation and creation from the private side to the public side, who are putting that together for the betterment of our nation… [MSSA] is the first step of many steps of developing this skill set that exists here in the Marine Corps.”
The Quantico campus is the first of four scheduled MSSA launches in early 2018 on the Eastern Seaboard, and will complete Microsoft’s 2015 goal of opening nine regions servicing 14 bases. In the months ahead, Microsoft will open MSSA programs at Camp Lejeune, Naval Station Norfolk, and the Jacksonville Community Campus (near Naval Air Station Jacksonville and Naval Station Mayport).
Since launching MSSA in November 2013 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in the state of Washington, Microsoft has worked with education partners ERAU and St. Martin’s University to create a successful and proven model for reskilling our nation’s heroes and preparing them for meaningful careers in technology. This cornerstone of the DoD Skillbridge program helps the industry overall, helps veterans and helps our country build a stronger workforce to compete on the world stage. In the past four years, the company has grown its hiring partner network to more than 240 companies, including Dell, Expedia, Accenture, Capgemeni and the Department of Defense, with an average starting salary of $70,000.
To learn more about MSSA at Quantico, visit military.microsoft.com/mssa.
Tags: Education and Jobs, military, MSSA, veterans
There was a lot to love this week at Microsoft, timely with Valentine’s Day on Sunday. We watched an amazing 11-year-old composer from McKinney, Texas, who now has an easier way to notate his award-winning creations, thanks to an app especially designed for Surface. We learned that Sir Paul McCartney created an exclusive set of love-inspired musical creations for Mojis on Skype. We saw how Kinect is being used to help quantify whether multiple sclerosis patients’ symptoms are stabilizing or getting worse. And we met some of the generous Microsoft employees who raised a record-setting amount of money last year for nonprofits around the globe.
Garrett Weyenberg was 2 when he started coming up with his own songs and compositions. At 10, he created an eight-minute piece called “Sonatina in G Major,” which won a regional composition contest. It was just one work in a vast collection of original music by the boy with bright blue eyes. But Garrett had no easy way to write his musical thoughts, no practical means for saving his music and sharing it with others to play. That all changed when Garrett turned 11, got a Surface Pro 3 for his birthday and started using StaffPad, a notation app designed for Surface that lets users handwrite music and save it for editing, playback and sharing. “He is composing music in his mind daily,” says Garrett’s mother, Stephanie Weyenberg. “StaffPad truly has been the game changer for him.”
Here, there and everywhere with Skype Mojis: Another composer, one we all know and love, Sir Paul McCartney, partnered with Skype to create the music for a new, exclusive set of love-inspired Mojis. Mojis, which are free, are unique to Skype and feature sound as well as video, giving your chats a whole new personality – and now, even more ways to express your love to friends and family around the world.
Kinect is being used to help multiple sclerosis patients. For years, healthcare company Novartis has been trying to find more consistent ways to quantify whether the treatments it is developing for MS are working. In conjunction with Microsoft researchers and use of Kinect, researchers at Novartis say they can get a more consistent reading of how a patient performs on each of the tests, bringing a new level of uniformity that will help doctors better assess the progress of the disease. That, in turn, could speed up the process of getting the right treatments to patients.
Microsoft employees raised a record $125 million last year for nonprofits around the globe, it was announced Wednesday. It was the greatest year-over-year increase ever – and the fifth year in a row that Microsoft employees raised more than $100 million. The participation rate hit an all-time high, at 71 percent, as employees donated more time, talent and money to help address local and global causes they care about most. In addition, Microsoft doubles the impact of every donation employees make to the causes of their choice, matching each gift. It also contributes $25 dollars for every hour employees volunteer their time.
New Microsoft Garage app, Fetch!, uses artificial intelligence to name that breed. Dog lovers will definitely want to play Fetch! Using your iPhone camera or photo library, the app can identify and classify dogs by breeds and tell you what kind of human personality fits best with specific breeds. And just for fun, the app will even take an informed guess on what kind of dog you or your friends might be. The app demonstrates the potential for Microsoft researchers’ continued advances in artificial intelligence, which have already appeared in other playful ways through Microsoft Project Oxford-powered experiences such as HowOld.net, TwinsOrNot.net, MyMoustache.net and Mimicker Alarm.
Not ready for Valentine’s Day? Not to worry. There’s plenty of time to connect with apps and experiences in Windows 10 and Cortana that will help set the mood, along with romantic movies and music from the Windows Store. If you want to create the perfect playlist, Pandora, Microsoft Groove and Shazam can help. You might want to try Music for Lovers, which has 30 songs all queued up for you. You can also head over to the Movies & TV section of the Windows Store for the Love is in the Air collection of titles. Find a great spot to eat with OpenTable, or use Cortana in Microsoft Edge to get restaurant reviews, help you book your table, and even remind you when it’s time to go.
Five new military bases are being added to Microsoft’s career transition program. The Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA) helps service members who are preparing to transition to civilian careers in technology. Hundreds have graduated from the academy, which will be offered at five additional Army installations this year and next. Those installations are: Fort Campbell, Kentucky; Fort Benning, Georgia; Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Fort Carson, Colorado; and Fort Bliss, Texas.
This week on the Microsoft Instagram channel, we caught up with Kyle Schwaneke, a talented young developer on the Xbox team, who also has Asperger’s. Kyle was one of the first employees in Microsoft’s program to hire people with autism, and now he’s thriving as a mentor to the newest group of candidates.
Yes, there was a lot to love about this week. Let’s keep it goin’! And happy Valentine’s Day to all!
Posted by Suzanne Choney
Microsoft News Center Staff
It was a good week for Master Chief, and for U.S. service members seeking to master IT skills to help them transition from military to civilian life. Let’s get to it!
The Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA) is expanding from three locations to nine, and will be servicing 12 military installations. The MSSA program uses a service member’s time prior to transitioning out of the service to train him or her in specialized technology management areas like server cloud/database, business intelligence and software development. After successfully completing the program, participants have an interview for a full-time job at Microsoft or one of its hiring partners. “On this Veterans Day 2015, it’s the responsibility of the IT industry to honor those who have served with more than an artillery salute and a brief word of thanks,” says Chris Cortez, vice president of Military Affairs at Microsoft, and retired U.S. Marine Corps major general. “We are compelled to set an example of what it can look like to dig in with our transitioning service members as they prepare to cross the bridge to the civilian world.”
A week after launching worldwide, “Halo 5: Guardians” broke records as biggest Halo launch ever and the fastest-selling Xbox One exclusive game to-date, with more than $400 million in global sales of “Halo 5: Guardians” games and hardware. The “Halo 5: Live” launch celebration also earned a Guinness World Records title for the most-watched video game launch broadcast, with more than 330,000 unique streams on the evening of the broadcast.
In China, millions of people are carrying on casual conversations with a Microsoft technology called XiaoIce. Hsiao-Wuen Hon, corporate vice president in charge of Microsoft Research Asia, sees XiaoIce as an example of the vast potential that artificial intelligence holds — not to replace human tasks and experiences, but rather to augment them, writes Allison Linn. Hon recently joined some of the world’s leading computer scientists at the 21st Century Computing Conference in Beijing, an annual meeting of researchers and computer science students, to discuss some emerging trends.
Microsoft and Red Hat announced a partnership that will help customers embrace hybrid cloud computing by providing greater choice and flexibility deploying Red Hat solutions on Microsoft Azure. Also announced: Microsoft acquired Mobile Data Labs, creator of the popular MileIQ app, which takes advantage of sensors in modern mobile devices to automatically and contextually capture, log and calculate business miles, allowing users to confidently claim tax deductions. The acquisition is the latest example of Microsoft’s ambition to reinvent productivity and business process in a mobile-first, cloud-first world, says Rajesh Jha, corporate vice president for Outlook and Office 365.
We got to know some pretty cool people doing really cool things. Among them: The team members of Loop who created the Arrow and Next Lock Screen apps through the Microsoft Garage. We also were introduced to Scott McBride, a Navy vet whose internship at Microsoft led to a full-time job; he’s now a business program manager for Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group. McBride will be helping Microsoft recruit new hires this fall.
A game with a deceptively simple, one-word title, “Prune,” is the App of the Week. In it, you give life to a forgotten landscape, and uncover a story that’s hidden deep beneath the soil. You’ll cultivate a sapling into a full-grown tree, and watch it evolve in an elegant but sparse environment. It’s up to you to bring the tree toward the sunlight, or shield it from the dangers of a hostile world. You can install “Prune” for $3.99 from the Windows Store.
This week on the Microsoft Instagram channel, we met Thavius Beck. Beyond being a musician, Thavius is a performer, producer and teacher. He uses his Surface Book to spread his love of music and perform in completely new ways.
Thanks for reading! Have a good weekend, and we’ll see you back here next Friday!
Posted by Suzanne Choney
Microsoft News Center Staff
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thanks for checking out this edition of Weekend Reading, and we’ll see you next week.
Posted by Vanessa Ho
Microsoft News Center Staff
It was a week of honors, awards and an acquisition. It was a week in which one more group of soldiers completed training that will help them transition from military life to the world of civilian IT. And it was a week where students in the nation’s largest city learned they’re getting free access to productivity software that will help them prepare for college and the workplace.
New York City public schools announced Office 365 is being made available, for free, to its 1.1 million students, as well as to teachers. New York City’s Department of Education, in collaboration with the City Council, is providing the Office 365 ProPlus benefit, which gives students and teachers up to five downloads of the latest versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Access and Publisher, along with anywhere, anytime access. “With free at-home access to the same tools students use at school, classroom assignments will no longer be confined to the classroom,” says Anthony Salcito, Microsoft vice president, Worldwide Public Sector Education.
Microsoft acquired Sunrise, provider of popular next-generation calendar app for iOS and Android. The acquisition, in addition to Microsoft’s recent acquisition of Acompli and the new touch-optimized universal Office apps for Windows 10, “all exemplify Microsoft’s ambition to rethink the productivity category,” says Rajesh Jha, Outlook and Office 365 corporate vice president. “Our goal is to create more meaningful, beautiful experiences in mobile email and calendaring across all platforms.”
A fourth group of soldiers graduated from the Fort Hood Microsoft Software and Systems Academy (MSSA). The academy is a 16-week course that prepares service members to transition to civilian life. In addition to being offered at the Texas base, MSSA is available at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state and at Camp Pendleton in California. For Sgt. Cole McBride, one of this week’s grads, it was the death of a close friend in the military that drew him to serve his country in the first place. And during his service, he developed a deep interest in the field of computer science.
On another continent, we learned about a young man whose life was heading in a bad direction before he turned it around. Wanderson Skrock grew up in a slum outside Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As a young teen, he sold drugs, and he was imprisoned twice. During his second sentence, he took a course offered through a Microsoft partner, Center for Digital Inclusion. It changed his life, and the lives of others, for the good. After he got out of prison, he became a computer instructor for the center, and now teaches children and teens from backgrounds similar to his. Microsoft recently named Skrock one of its global YouthSpark Youth Advisors, who will help the company create programs, partnerships and resources that meet the needs of youth around the world.
When Vinny Pasceri’s friend and fellow Microsoft employee went missing last fall, Pasceri was driven to try to do more than post search information online. He wanted to come up with a way help others in the same situation, especially those with special needs children, and with the assistance of his fellow coworkers, created a new kind of tracking system. The result is Lighthouse, which tracks proximity to a caregiver through Bluetooth Low Energy. With Lighthouse, a student wears a beacon in a wristband or other small device. The beacon is linked to an app on the phone of every teacher and specialist on the student’s schedule. The app registers when the student is within range of each caregiver. It sends a missing alert if the student is out of range. Lighthouse won a first-place award in the 2014 Global Startup Battle, considered the largest startup tournament in the world, with 25,000 international participants last year.
Microsoft is among the companies that will be honored by the American Foundation for the Blind with a 2015 Access Award in April. Microsoft is receiving props for its “huge efforts to advance accessibility in computing by increasing access to the popular Window-Eyes screen reader and by supporting the needs of customers with disabilities through a dedicated technical support service,” the foundation says. Meanwhile, Microsoft researcher and Distinguished Scientist Richard Szeliski has received one of the highest honors accorded to an engineer — election to the National Academy of Engineering — “for contributions to computer vision, computer graphics and interactive image and video rendering.”
Early happy Valentine’s Day! No matter whether the source of your affection is Fido, feline, friends or family (or all of them), there are plenty of apps to help you celebrate. The Happy Valentine’s Day collection in the Windows Phone Store has gathered 30 apps for one-stop installing, such as the free Tom’s Love Letters (also available in the Windows Store), which provides Talking Tom and Talking Angela – the cutest-virtual-kitties-ever – as your personal Cupids. It’s got 19 romantic digital cards and four catchy love songs from which to choose. Valentine turns your phone into fantasy of hearts and roses, with more than 40 wallpapers, and lots of ideas for romance and gift suggestions. You can also find good anytime entertainment with “Wheel of Fortune” for Windows Phone, PCs and tablets. Catch up on NPR news with the free NPR One app, available on Windows Phone, PCs and tablets. And be sure to check out the revamped Weather Channel app – with better search, a new user interface and upgraded video player – for Windows PCs and tablets.
This week on our global adventure to find people who #DoMore on the Microsoft Instagram page, we met Julia Streets, who worked in the London PR world for years, but took a break to pursue her passion for comedy. Now she does both.
Thanks for checking out this edition of Weekend Reading. We’ll see you next Friday!
Posted by Suzanne Choney
Microsoft News Center Staff