Tag Archives: Mission

Dia daoibh! Tá Gaeilge againn! – Microsoft Translator Blog

Microsoft Translator adds Irish as a new language.

Irish language support

Our ongoing mission to break down language barriers continues with Irish: Today, we have added Irish Gaelic to Microsoft Translator. Irish Gaelic, usually referred to as the Irish Language or just Irish, and commonly known in Irish itself as Gaeilge (pronounced “gwael-guh”), is the latest addition to the Microsoft Translator family of languages. This brings Irish to all scenarios powered by Microsoft Translator, including Custom Translator, which helps customers to build translation systems for domain-specific terminology and style.

Neural machine translation technology has recently achieved impressive quality gains, characterized by highly fluent and accurate output, even for low-resourced languages such as Gaeilge. Using deep learning, we have iteratively refined our machine translation models. With today’s release, our commitment to deliver high-quality machine translation for Gaeilge moves to the next stage, as we prepare to continuously improve translation quality based on feedback from our users.

The Irish Language 

Irish is an official language of the country of Ireland, and also has official status in the European Union. It is classified as a Celtic language, a family of languages that includes Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Breton, Manx, and Cornish, first appearing over 2,500 years ago. Irish is spoken as a first language in a number of regions of Ireland and taught in all schools across the country.

Professor Andy Way, head of the MT-team at the ADAPT Research Centre Ireland, shared his support by stating” We are very pleased to hear of the launch of Microsoft’s new neural MT system for Irish.” His colleague, Dr. Teresa Lynn, Research Fellow specializing in Irish language technology at ADAPT, added “Microsoft’s launch of their Irish-language NMT system is wholly complementary to the work we have been doing in the ADAPT over the past few years towards improving Irish machine translation in public administration. With this new release, the wider Irish language community now have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of advanced language technology.” Likewise, Cllr. Peter Kavanagh, Green Party Irish Language Spokesperson and Co-founder of Pop Up Gaeltacht, said “It’s very positive to see Microsoft launching an Irish language machine translation engine.”

Irish Gaelige is available now, or in the next few days, on all Microsoft Translator apps, add-ins, Office, Translator for Bing, and through the Azure Cognitive Services Translator API for businesses and developers.

What you can do with Microsoft Translator

Translate real-time conversations, menus and street signs, websites, documents, and more using the Translator app for Windows, iOS, Android and the web. Use the Microsoft Translator Text and Speech API, both members of the Azure Cognitive Services family, to help globalize your business and customer interactions. Create a more inclusive classroom for both students and parents with live captioning and cross-language understanding.

For more information on Microsoft Translator please visit: https://www.microsoft.com/translator/.

Go raibh míle maith agaibh go léir!

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Microsoft events — the year ahead – The Official Microsoft Blog

Empowering every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more is a 7 billion-person mission that we don’t take lightly. None of us at Microsoft could ever hope to reach that objective without a vast set of partnerships with curious and passionate people who seek to deeply understand technology and its power to transform individuals, businesses and industries. Facilitating connections, sharing our technologies and partnering to create solutions to real-world challenges is why we create the many Microsoft event experiences we host around the world.

Microsoft event experiences are designed to benefit specific audiences and structured to support clear objectives. We’re committed to closely aligning with all our partners, customers, and business and IT decision makers and connecting you with peers and industry leaders. To find out more about each event, visit our event website for details. Or, if you’re looking for a quick description of each event, read below to get a snapshot of our upcoming events.

Flagship events
IT professionals and developers
Microsoft Ignite — For IT professionals, decision makers, implementors, architects, developers and data professionals. This event provides opportunities to explore the latest tools, receive deep technical training and get specific questions answered by Microsoft experts. With more than 26,000 attendees who join to learn, connect and explore what Microsoft has to offer, this truly is the place where reality meets imagination. Orlando, Florida | Nov. 4-8, 2019

Microsoft Build — Where leading architects, developers, start-ups and student developers converge to focus on the latest tech trends and innovate for the future. We maintain our “produced by developers and for developers” mantra while inviting the next generation of developers to participate in the student zone. Seattle, Washington | May 19-21, 2020

Microsoft partners
Microsoft Business Applications Summit — An annual opportunity to bring together a community of Microsoft customers and partners in roles that include power users, business analysts, evangelists, implementers and technical architects. This event provides a forum to learn how Microsoft’s end-to-end Dynamics 365 and Power Platform can create and extend solutions to drive business success. Anaheim, California | April 20-21, 2020

Microsoft Inspire — Where Microsoft partners meet to connect and celebrate as one community at the close of Microsoft’s fiscal year. With hundreds of thousands of partners across the world, our partner ecosystem is stronger and more united than ever. We invite you to learn more about how Microsoft leaders are supporting our partners, and how partners can capitalize on the opportunities ahead. We’ve co-located our Microsoft sales kick-off event to build on our shared partnership philosophy. Las Vegas, Nevada | July 20-24, 2020

Regional tours

We started our regional tours for attendee convenience and to gauge how digital transformation is happening around the world. They’ve been a success on both fronts. This year we’re expanding to 30 markets for Microsoft Ignite The Tour and starting Microsoft Envision I The Tour in seven cities. Check out one of the stops on our regional tours in a city near you.

IT professionals and developers
Microsoft Ignite The Tour — We are bringing the best of Microsoft Ignite to you by traveling to 30 cities around the world for both ease of access and for the robust localized content for these distinct markets. Join us for in-depth learning and experiences in a free, two-day format that allows IT professionals and developers to learn new ways to build solutions, migrate, and manage infrastructure and connect with local industry leaders and peers. Visit Microsoft Ignite The Tour for locations and dates.

Business decision makers
Microsoft Envision | The Tour — An invitation-only, single-day event held in multiple cities around the world. With a global focus, this summit allows members of the C-suite to focus on challenges and trends that are changing the way organizations do business. Taking inspiration from our CEO Summit, this conference is designed to give leaders a chance to step back and learn about smart strategies to tackle emerging issues, power new efficiencies and build new business models and revenue streams. Visit Microsoft Envision I The Tour for locations and dates.

Digital learning

For those unable to make it in person or who are looking to quickly skill up on a particular topic, we offer digital learning options. Watch training sessions and event keynote sessions at any time. View multiple modules or choose a learning path tailored to today’s developer and technology masterminds that are designed to prepare you for industry-recognized Microsoft certifications.

Additional events

We’re just scratching the surface of the full picture of events that Microsoft has to offer. If you don’t find what you are looking for here, visit our full global events catalog for a list of events in your region and possibly your own city. These are events that are organized around specific product offerings and located in easily accessible locations with a wide range of class levels offered.

We invite everyone to join us to learn and grow, join us to connect with your peers, join us to get the answers you need so that you can deliver the solutions that can help propel your digital transformation. Visit our events website of flagship and regional events, and we look forward to seeing you in the year ahead.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Azure Media Services’ new AI-powered innovation

Animated character recognition, multilingual speech transcription and more now available

At Microsoft, our mission is to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more. The media industry exemplifies this mission. We live in an age where more content is being created and consumed in more ways and on more devices than ever. At IBC 2019, we’re delighted to share the latest innovations we’ve been working on and how they can help transform your media workflows. Read on to learn more, or join our product teams and partners at Hall 1 Booth C27 at the RAI in Amsterdam from September 13th to 17th.

Video Indexer adds support for animation and multilingual content

We made our award winning Azure Media Services Video Indexer generally available at IBC last year, and this year it’s getting even better. Video Indexer automatically extracts insights and metadata such as spoken words, faces, emotions, topics and brands from media files, without you needing to be a machine learning expert. Our latest announcements include previews for two highly requested and differentiated capabilities for animated character recognition and multilingual speech transcription, as well as several additions to existing models available today in Video Indexer.

Animated character recognition

Animated content or cartoons are one of the most popular content types, but standard AI vision models built for human faces do not work well with them, especially if the content has characters without human features. In this new preview solution, Video Indexer joins forces with Microsoft’s Azure Custom Vision service to provide a new set of models that automatically detect and group animated characters and allow customers to then tag and recognize them easily via integrated custom vision models. These models are integrated into a single pipeline, which allows anyone to use the service without any previous machine learning skills. The results are available through the no-code Video Indexer portal or the REST API for easy integration into your own applications.

Image of the AMS Video Indexer recognizing animated characters.

We built these animated character models in collaboration with select customers who contributed real animated content for training and testing. The value of the new functionality is well articulated by Andy Gutteridge, Senior Director, Studio & Post-Production Technology at Viacom International Media Networks, which was one of the data contributors: “The addition of reliable AI-based animated detection will enable us to discover and catalogue character metadata from our content library quickly and efficiently. Most importantly, it will give our creative teams the power to find the content they want instantly, minimize time spent on media management and allow them to focus on the creative.”

To get started with animated character recognition, please visit our documentation page.

Multilingual identification and transcription

Some media assets like news, current affairs, and interviews contain audio with speakers using different languages. Most existing speech-to-text capabilities require the audio recognition language to be specified in advance, which is an obstacle to transcribing multilingual videos. Our new automatic spoken language identification for multiple content feature leverages machine learning technology to identify the different languages used in a media asset. Once detected, each language segment undergoes an automatic transcription process in the language identified, and all segments are integrated back together into one transcription file consisting of multiple languages.

An image of the Video Indexer screen, showing multilingual transcription.
The resulting transcription is available both as part of Video Indexer JSON output and as closed-caption files. The output transcript is also integrated with Azure Search, allowing you to immediately search across videos for the different language segments. Furthermore, the multi-language transcription is available as part of the Video Indexer portal experience so you can view the transcript and identified language by time, or jump to the specific places in the video for each language and see the multi-language transcription as captions as a video is played. You can also translate the output back-and-forth into 54 different languages via the portal and API.

Read more about the new multilingual option and how to use it in Video Indexer in our documentation.

Additional updated and improved models

We are also adding new and improving existing models within Video Indexer, including:

Extraction of people and locations entities

We’ve extended our current brand detection capabilities to also incorporate well-known names and locations, such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris or Big Ben in London. When these appear in the generated transcript or on-screen via optical character recognition (OCR), a specific insight is created. With this new capability, you can review and search by all people, locations and brands that appeared in the video, along with their timeframes, description, and a link to our Bing search engine for more information.

 Azure Video Indexer entity extraction in the insight pane.

Editorial shot detection model

This new feature adds a set of “tags” in the metadata attached to an individual shot in the insights JSON to represent its editorial type (such as wide shot, medium shot, close up, extreme close up, two shot, multiple people, outdoor and indoor, etc.). These shot-type characteristics come in handy when editing videos into clips and trailers as well as when searching for a specific style of shots for artistic purposes.

Azure Video Indexer editorial shot type example.
Explore and read more about editorial shot type detection in Video Indexer.

Expanded granularity of IPTC mapping

Our topic inferencing model determines the topic of videos based on transcription, optical character recognition (OCR), and detected celebrities even if the topic is not explicitly stated. We map these inferred topics to four different taxonomies: Wikipedia, Bing, IPTC, and IAB. With this enhancement, we now include level-2 IPTC taxonomy.

Tanking advantage of these enhancements is as easy as re-indexing your current Video Indexer library.

New live streaming functionality

We are also introducing two new live-streaming capabilities in preview to Azure Media Services.

Live transcription supercharges your live events with AI

Using Azure Media Services to stream a live event, you can now get an output stream that includes an automatically generated text track in addition to the video and audio content. This text track is created using AI-based live transcription of the audio of the contribution feed. Custom methods are applied before and after speech-to-text conversion in order to improve the end-user experience. The text track is packaged into IMSC1, TTML, or WebVTT, depending on whether you are delivering in DASH, HLS CMAF, or HLS TS.

Live linear encoding for 24/7 over-the-top (OTT) channels

Using our v3 APIs, you can create, manage, and stream live channels for OTT services and take advantage of all the other features of Azure Media Services like live to video on demand (VOD), packaging, and digital rights management (DRM).

To try these preview features, please visit the Azure Media Services Community page.

An image showing live transcription signal flow.

New packaging features

Support for audio description tracks

Broadcast content frequently has an audio track that contains verbal explanations of on-screen action in addition to the normal program audio. This makes programming more accessible for vision-impaired viewers, especially if the content is highly visual. The new audio description feature enables a customer to annotate one of the audio tracks to be the audio description (AD) track, which in turn can be used by players to make the AD track discoverable by viewers.

ID3 metadata insertion

In order to signal the insertion of advertisements or custom metadata events on a client player, broadcasters often make use of timed metadata embedded within the video. In addition to SCTE-35 signaling modes, we now also support ID3v2 or other custom schemas defined by an application developer for use by the client application.

Microsoft Azure partners demonstrate end-to-end solutions

Bitmovin is debuting its Bitmovin Video Encoding and Bitmovin Video Player on Microsoft Azure. Customers can now use these encoding and player solutions on Azure and leverage advanced functionality such as 3-pass encoding, AV1/VVC codec support, multi-language closed captions, and pre-integrated video analytics for QoS, ad, and video tracking.

Evergent is showing its User Lifecycle Management Platform on Azure. As a leading provider of revenue and customer lifecycle management solutions, Evergent leverages Azure AI to enable premium entertainment service providers to improve customer acquisition and retention by generating targeted packages and offers at critical points in the customer lifecycle.

Haivision will showcase its intelligent media routing cloud service, SRT Hub, that helps customers transform end-to-end workflows starting with ingest using Azure Data Box Edge and media workflow transformation using Hublets from Avid, Telestream, Wowza and Cinegy, and Make.tv.

SES has developed a suite of broadcast-grade media services on Azure for its satellite connectivity and managed media services customers. SES will show solutions for fully managed playout services, including master playout, localized playout and ad detection and replacement, and 24×7 high-quality multichannel live encoding on Azure.

SyncWords is making its caption automation technology and user-friendly cloud-based tools available on Azure. These offerings will make it easier for media organizations to add automated closed captioning and foreign language subtitling capabilities to their real-time and offline video processing workflows on Azure.
Global design and technology services company Tata Elxsi has integrated TEPlay, its OTT platform SaaS, with Azure Media Services to deliver OTT content from the cloud. Tata Elxsi has also brought FalconEye, its quality of experience (QoE) monitoring solution that focuses on actionable metrics and analytics, to Microsoft Azure.

Verizon Media is making its streaming platform available in beta on Azure. Verizon Media Platform is an enterprise-grade managed OTT solution including DRM, ad insertion, one-to-one personalized sessions, dynamic content replacement, and video delivery. The integration brings simplified workflows, global support and scale, and access to a range of unique capabilities available on Azure.

Many of our partners will also be presenting in the theater at our booth, so make sure you stop by to catch them!

Short distance, big impact

We are proud to support the 4K 4Charity Fun Run as a gold sponsor. This is a running and walking event held at various media industry events since 2014, and it raises awareness and financial support for non-profits focused on increased diversity and inclusion. Register and come join us on Saturday, September 14th, at 7:30am at the Amstelpark in Amsterdam.

Don’t miss out

There’s a lot more going on at the Microsoft booth this IBC. To learn more, read about how the community of our customers and partners are innovating on Azure in media and entertainment, or better yet come and join us in Hall 1 Booth C27. If you won’t be there, we’re sorry we’ll miss you, but you can try Video Indexer and Azure Media Services for yourself by following the links.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

AI for Earth: Helping save the planet with data science – Asia News Center

Wee Hyong Tok is a data scientist. He has a passion for numbers, a faith in technology – and a mission that might make a superhero think twice.

“I want to save the Earth,” he says matter-of-factly. “That seems like a very bold statement. But, I strongly believe that artificial intelligence (AI) can play an important role in monitoring the health of our planet.”

Singapore-born and educated, Wee Hyong has been a data guy and techie all his working life – first in academia, and later with Microsoft in China and the United States where he helped create ground-breaking products in the cloud.

For more than a year now, he has been leading an elite global research team for AI for Earth – a five-year, US$50 million Microsoft initiative that supports, and partners with, environmental groups and researchers. They are tackling some of the world’s most intractable problems by marshaling the immense power of AI, machine learning (ML), and the cloud.

Wee Hyong Tok, Principal Data Science Manager, AI & Research.

In a recent interview during a quick visit back to Singapore, Wee Hyong summed up the challenge: We live on planet Earth, and yet we know very little about it.

We have limited time to learn how to conserve its resources. Fresh water supplies are being dangerously overexploited. Land is being exhausted and degraded to produce more food for more people in ever-growing cities. Thousands of species are fading fast into extinction as their habitats disappear in a whirl of industrialization and a haze of pollution. The oceans are choking on plastics and the carbon-charged climate is changing. Precious things that are vital to our existence are under threat and, if lost, might never come back.

I strongly believe that AI can play an important role in monitoring the health of our planet.

When we hear such things, most of us tend to shrug helplessly. Such problems just seem too big, too hard, and too scary to fix. But Wee Hyong and his colleagues at AI for Earth and Microsoft Research are convinced that solutions can come in our time – if data, technology, and imagination are put to work.

“I am an optimist,” he says before describing the technical complexities surrounding his team’s quest. “We can learn how to leverage AI to solve some of the sustainability challenges facing humanity today.”

Asia’s elusive and endangered Snow Leopard. Photo: Peter Bolliger.

Boiled down, AI for Earth aims to create sustainable solutions across four areas that are key to the health of the planet and the future of humankind: agriculture, water, biodiversity, and climate change.

Wee Hyong proudly points to some early breakthroughs. The Farm Beats project is pioneering new data-driven agriculture to guide farmers in India and the United States on where and when to plant crops for the greatest yield.

Equally impressive are the strides being made in land cover mapping – traditionally a time-consuming, expensive tool that is essential for environmental management and precision conservation. Recently, the entire United States was mapped by machine-learning algorithms that processed nearly 200 million aerial images in just over 10 minutes. Done the usual way, such a project would have taken many months and cost a fortune. Deployed globally and locally, this new way of mapping could revolutionize how we mitigate the effects of urbanization, pollution, deforestation, and even natural disasters.

Endangered species are also being given new hope. Traditionally, analysts pore over of thousands of images taken from satellites, drones or camera traps in the wild to study the range, populations, and behaviors of animals otherwise rarely seen by humans. It’s laborious work that takes time, skill, and concentration. “Try spotting a herd of zebra on the African savannah from a satellite image,” Wee Hyong says. “it’s not easy.”

High resolution imagery of zebra on the African savannah. Photo: Courtesy of Save The Elephants

Now computers can take on this role thanks to deep learning techniques that enable them to make sense of the thousands of pixels in an image. This is freeing up the expert time of scientists to do and study more. It’s already adding invaluable knowledge about elusive snow leopards in Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia and dwindling elephant populations in Congo in Africa where AI is also being used to in the fight against the twin scourges of poaching and the ivory trade.

Project Premonition uses insects as de facto “field biologists”. The project uses AI to analyze blood that mosquitoes take from animals across an  an ecosystem to glean valuable data. To achieve this, AI for Earth is developing drones that autonomously locate mosquito hotspots, robotic traps to collect specimens, and cloud-scale genomics and machine learning algorithms to identify each animal bitten.

The rise of the intelligent cloud and the ability to deploy machine learning models to the intelligent edge is accelerating and enabling new exciting possibilities to study and save wildlife from the remotest corners of the Earth to suburban backyards.

African bush elephants with Mount Kilmanjaro in the background. Picture: Courtesy of Save the Elephants

It goes beyond just technology, right? They want to tell their kids they are trying to save the Earth.

Pursuing research is worthy in itself, but real value comes when a solution is launched into action in the real world. It is here that Wee Hyong’s motivation shines through: He wants to leave the world in better shape for his two children – and for all children in the world.

The same goes for his team of data scientists and software engineers who left exciting and satisfying roles in commercial product development to join AI for Earth.

“Every single person who came for a job interview said they wanted to be able to tell their kids and families that they were serving a higher purpose. It goes beyond just technology, right? It goes beyond just new deep learning techniques and approaches, or whatever. They want to tell their kids they are trying to save the Earth.”

Five lessons on reaching 1 billion people living with disabilities

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.

If you find a Microsoft video missing captions, please contact us via our
Disability Answer Desk.

4. All marketing should be inclusive marketing

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.

Pro tip: Make your presentations more accessible by adding live subtitles with the
Presentation Translator add-in for PowerPoint.

5. Real people, real stories

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.

Lilly strives to speed innovation with help from Microsoft 365 Enterprise – Microsoft 365 Blog

Profile picture of Ron Markezich.The nearly 40,000 employees of Eli Lilly and Company are on a mission to make medicines that help people live longer, healthier, and more active lives. But they know that developing new treatments for cancer, diabetes, and other debilitating diseases requires collaboration with the best minds working together to foster innovation.

That’s 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. Working together—creatively and efficiently—can help generate new ideas that fuel innovation. To bring together scientists across hundreds of locations and organizations and truly empower the workforce, Lilly selected Microsoft 365 Enterprise.

While Lilly is in the early stage of deployment, these cloud-based collaboration tools, including Microsoft Teams, are making an impact. Mike Meadows, vice president and chief technology officer at Lilly, says that the technology will allow for enhanced productivity and teamwork, while helping to protect IP:

“Collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams enhance our ability for researchers and other employees to work together in faster and more creative ways, advancing our promise to make life better through innovative medicines. Microsoft 365 helps us bring the best minds together while keeping data secure and addressing regulatory compliance requirements.”

Like enterprise customers across the globe, Lilly sees Microsoft 365 as a robust, intelligent productivity and collaboration solution that empowers employees to be creative and work together. And when deployment of Windows 10 is complete, employees across the company will advance a new culture of work where creative collaboration that sparks critical thinking and innovation happens anywhere, anytime.

At Microsoft, we’re humbled to play a role in helping Lilly make life better for people around the world.

—Ron Markezich

Meet Microsoft News: A new way to stay informed across the Web, Windows 10, iOS and Android – Windows Experience Blog

Our mission for more than two decades has been to keep you informed in an easily accessible, comprehensive and trustworthy way. Today, we share the next step in our evolution.

Microsoft has been in the news business for more than 23 years. When we launched MSN in 1995, the news industry was just beginning to provide content online. The period that followed was one of dramatic change and reinvention, forcing news organizations to re-think their programming and business strategies. We changed, too, from a feature of Windows 95 to a network of web and app experiences that now reaches nearly half a billion people in more than 140 countries and 28 languages. As we’ve evolved, our central mission has remained the same: to keep our audience informed in an easily accessible, comprehensive and trustworthy way.

Today, we’re excited to share the next step in our evolution – Microsoft News.

Microsoft News Editors at Mexico City Editorial Hub

Microsoft News Editors at Mexico City Editorial Hub

What is Microsoft News? 

Microsoft News is the new name for our news engine that powers familiar sites like MSN.com, and our newly redesigned Microsoft News app for iOS and Android. Microsoft News also powers news on Microsoft Edge, the News app in Windows 10, Skype, Xbox and Outlook.com.

Microsoft News represents the ways we keep people informed across the web, phone and PC, using our long-tested approach of curating news via publishing partnerships, human editors, and AI. We work with more than a thousand premium publishers and more than 3,000 brands in all major global markets – like USA Today, The New York Times, FOX News, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Le Monde, Die Welt, El País, BBC News, Kyodo News, and many more – to aggregate the best news, videos, photos and other content and deliver it, for free, to people all over the world.

MSN, powered by Microsoft News

MSN, powered by Microsoft News

Microsoft News makes it easy for you to personalize your news experience, including prioritizing your favorite topics on MSN.com or selecting interests to follow in your news feed on the Microsoft Edge Start page and our apps on Windows 10, iOS and Android, so you can quickly get to the information you want most when and where you want it. We also enable our many publishing partners to connect with new audiences and earn money for their content at a time when that is crucial to the survival of the industry – so they can continue to invest in high-quality, credible journalism.

Microsoft News for iOS and Android

You can experience the best of what Microsoft News has to offer in our newly redesigned Microsoft News app for iOS and Android, available today. The app makes it easy to get news wherever you are, focused on the topics you care about most – like having your own portable newsroom.

Microsoft News app for Android – dark theme

Microsoft News app for Android – dark theme

The app has been completely redesigned into a modern and beautiful experience tailored to iOS and Android devices. Here are some of our favorite new features:

  • New personalization upgrades, including the ability to tailor interests to follow in your news feed – such as World News, Personal Finance, Fitness and many more – and to roam interests across devices and local news options for top cities
  • Easy to configure breaking news alerts
  • A new dark theme, enabling better night reading
  • Simplified access through seamless integration with iOS and Android widgets
  • Continuous reading, for a smooth content experience

Get the app now.

Supporting the publishing ecosystem and quality journalism

We know we can’t do it alone. We may have decades of news experience under our belt but there are many institutions that have been at it much, much longer. These institutions have defined what we think of as quality journalism through years of essential reporting.

We believe that a free, well-funded press is a critical part of our social fabric and are proud to partner with the world’s best news brands, offering a business model that gives people access, at no-cost, to trustworthy news and provides a sustainable source of revenue for publishers. In just the past four years we’ve delivered more than $600 million back to our publishers, enabling them to focus on what they do best: quality journalism.

“Microsoft has been a great partner over the last several years, working closely with our newsroom and collaborating as they consider new features and services. We appreciate partners like Microsoft who value trusted reporting and seek ways to elevate and share premium journalism to millions of readers who are looking for information from a reliable source.”

— Maribel Wadsworth, publisher of USA TODAY and president, USA TODAY NETWORK

“Microsoft is a great partner for us because it offers both impressive reach and a well-earned reputation as a trusted source of news.”

— Rich Kennedy, SVP of Business Development, Business Insider

“We are very happy that Microsoft is investing further in highlighting valuable and trusted sources of news. The launch of Microsoft News is another positive proof point of publisher-platform relationships strengthening and we look forward to seeing what’s to come.”

— Matt Dornic, VP for Communications and Digital Partnerships, CNN

“Microsoft has been a valued partner in delivering CBSN’s live, 24/7 news coverage and analysis to an expansive audience that’s hungry for quality news and information. We look forward to continuing our strong relationship.”

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This curation process is global, using editors with local expertise. Today, there are more than 800 editors working from 50 locations around the world – including editorial newsrooms serving multiple regions in India, Germany, France, Mexico, Canada and Spain. Many of our editors have extensive backgrounds in media and journalism and have worked at a variety of news organizations including The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, Globe and Mail, Newsday, NBCSports.com, Seattle Times, Asahi Shimbun and Associated Press.

Microsoft News Editors at Delhi Media Center

Microsoft News Editors at Delhi Media Center

Diversity, in our newsroom and in the publishers we partner with, is a key ingredient of the Microsoft News experience. We carefully compose our pages every day to present multiple sides of a story and consciously curate a wide variety of opinion pieces so that our readers can explore issues via new and different perspectives. We believe thoughtful opinion pieces—which we clearly mark as such—help readers better understand the news. With that goal in mind, we’re always assessing our network of partners to ensure that we provide the most diverse, credible and well-rounded content available.

At Microsoft News, we’re constantly refining and improving our experiences to continue to serve the needs of people and partners around the globe. We hope you will visit MSN.com, the Microsoft Edge Start page and give the new app a try!

Updated June 20, 2018 11:47 am

‘I’ll do it’: how a former spacecraft engineer said ‘yes’ and launched great things – Microsoft Life

While working on the Mars Pathfinder mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, I came to a fork in the road. It was a moment when I had to decide whether to move out of my comfort zone and take a risk.

NASA was putting together a 25-person launch team that would temporarily move from California to Florida near the Kennedy Space Center. All of my best buddies were going to be on this team. I knew it was going to be a “work hard, play hard” scenario, and I really wanted to go.

Up until that point I had been working as the lead for the simulation software that was used to prepare for the mission. At one point, a colleague and I were tasked with fixing the flight simulation code, including the star scanner—the eyeball of the spacecraft. The flight simulation code fakes out the spacecraft so it thinks it’s flying to Mars when it’s really sitting in the lab in Pasadena. The work had fallen nine months behind schedule, and my teammate Miguel and I had been given eight weeks to complete the code. Neither of us had ever written this kind of code before, but failure was not an option.

In one way, the entire Pathfinder mission was a risk—it was an attempt to reinvent space travel, an experiment to see just how cheap and how fast we could put a spacecraft on another planet. And we didn’t want to disappoint America.

Cindy Healy at the Kennedy Space Center in October 1996.

Cindy Healy at the Kennedy Space Center in October 1996.

Working night and day, we got the code written and meeting performance targets, and then it was time for some folks to head to Florida to prep for the launch. I really wanted to go. But, I wasn’t on the list because my role was not critical to the Florida operations.

My coworker was the UNIX system administrator, and he was on the list. But, he and his wife were having a baby, and he didn’t want to go.

In one moment, I had to make a critical decision: would I take a risk? I had no idea how to do the job. But I love a challenge, and I really wanted to go to Florida.

I raised my hand and said, “I’ll do it, just teach me how to be the UNIX system administrator.” As if it’s so easy.

So my coworker trained me, and I was just writing everything in a notebook, scribbling down as much as I could. Those notes were all I would have to help me do the job.

To go to the launch prep site in Florida, I had to pack up all these computers, wrap and bundle cables, crawl on floors, and get all of this gear together. This, I learned, was the glamorous life of a UNIX system administrator. Then when we arrived, I had to unpack the boxes, lay the cables, hook up all the test equipment, and format all the UNIX machines. It was dirty work, but I was happy to do it. I was at the Kennedy Space Center, so my mission was accomplished.

Fast forward to the night of Pathfinder’s launch: I was a few minutes late because I had stopped near the launchpad to take a picture with the rocket in the background.

When I arrived, everyone was looking at me panicked, like, where have you been? I was confused, thinking, what’s wrong? That’s when I found out that we had no connection back to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It was a job for the UNIX system administrator.

My imposter syndrome threatened to kick in. I knew only what my notebook said, and the mission was waiting. It turned out that the first thing the notebook said was to make sure everything was connected.

With all eyes on me, I crawled around and, sure enough, I got to the router and one plug was just a little bit loose. I jiggled it back into place, and we were back online. I was a hero!

Hearing each station say “go for launch” just like in the movies and then going outside and watching Pathfinder take off into the night sky was an amazing experience. We all had a huge sense of accomplishment that day.

What I learned from the Pathfinder mission is that I thrive on challenge. A lot of times, I didn’t know what I was doing, but I did it anyway. One of the things I love about our current culture at Microsoft is how we are now embracing taking risks. Things have changed since I got here 12 years ago—we’ve learned that everything doesn’t have to be perfect to make forward progress.

I kept that in mind when I took on a project to create a single sign-on experience for Microsoft extranet applications for our partners. A big issue was that there were so many entry points for business-to-business operations—users might have to go to 50 different sites, using five different passwords, to do their business. In a single week, I heard a partner and a vice president complain about this problem. But people weren’t sure who should fix it or how. So I thought to myself, I’ll do it.

A near-term solution seemed to be a password keeper that simplified the login process. I wrote a white paper about it, sold it to leadership, and worked with the Azure team to use their B2B Access Panel as the solution. It worked: the single sign-on access panel is a big success story. Because of that, I won a Circle of Excellence award in 2016, the highest internal company award that an employee can win, which was a huge personal goal I had put on my vision board many years ago.

I’ve been inspired by how we’ve embraced a new approach of curiosity here at Microsoft. We have a more iterative approach—not everything has to be launched at scale. It reminds me of Pathfinder, where there really was no competition; we were all just working together and were united behind a common purpose.

It’s been very interesting working as a woman in engineering and technology. I grew up lower-middle class in Anaheim, California. I had no one pushing me to go to college. College was not an expectation in my high school or in my family, especially for women—it was more about learning how to cook and taking home economics. I worked in an arcade after high school, in the cashier’s booth. My lead recognized that my change drawer was always accurate, and she suggested that I go to college and major in computer science.

I applied on a whim and was accepted. In college, it was sometimes very lonely in my classes. I’m extroverted socially, but most of my classmates were not. I decided to stick with it, and I started liking it more and more; by senior year, I was really engaging in the work.

It’s been a disappointment that the number of women in tech has not improved much since I was in college. As much as I can, I try to help cultivate women’s professional development and advocate for STEM education. I had a big “aha” moment at Grace Hopper when I heard someone speak about how we often think to fill a role with someone who looks like the person who just left or who looks like the rest of the current team. It takes conscious thinking to say we’re going to hire someone different. If we don’t, we’re missing out on new perspectives, and we risk getting stuck in “group think.”

A few years ago, I started a DigiGirlz day camp program, sponsored by my organization, to help give young girls opportunities in STEM. And last year, I helped put on a “Shark Tank”-like event for women, where leaders offered to mentor or sponsor people whose ideas they liked. All four ideas got sponsorship, and three got implemented. This reinforced the fact that sometimes you just have to create your opportunity.

It’s amazing what can happen when you set a clear mission for people and get out of their way, and when you allow for experimentation. We just had a 20-year Pathfinder reunion this past summer, and one thing we all spent time remembering was that spirit of empowerment and embracing risk. Pathfinder was an attempt to reinvent space travel—people were doing things that were completely out of the box. We did something that had never been done before. I am so proud to be a part of this little piece of history.

I have seen what can happen when you keep your mind open to new ideas and continually take on big challenges. I try to keep that front and center at all times and inspire others to do so, too.

Are you a Microsoft employee with a journey to share? Drop us a line from your work email at MicrosoftLife (at) microsoft.com.