Tag Archives: Productivity

Microsoft announces Azure Databricks powered by Apache® Spark, new AI, IoT and machine learning tools for developers | News Center

New tools to help increase developer productivity and simplify app development for intelligent cloud and edge, across devices, platforms or data sources

NEW YORK — Nov. 15, 2017 — Wednesday at Connect(); 2017, Microsoft Corp.’s annual event for professional developers, Executive Vice President Scott Guthrie announced new Microsoft data platform technologies and cross-platform developer tools. Guthrie outlined the company’s vision and shared what’s next for developers across a broad range of Microsoft and open source technologies, and how Microsoft is helping them get more done across apps or platforms. He also touched on key application scenarios and ways developers can use built-in artificial intelligence (AI) to support continuous innovation and continuous deployment of today’s intelligent applications.

“With today’s intelligent cloud, emerging technologies like AI have the potential to change every facet of how we interact with the world,” Guthrie said. “Developers are in the forefront of shaping that potential. Today at Connect(); we’re announcing new tools and services that help developers build applications and services for the AI-driven future, using the platforms, languages and collaboration tools they already know and love.”

Across devs, apps, data, platforms

Microsoft is continuing its commitment to delivering open technologies and contributing to and partnering with the open source community. New tools and partnerships are designed to help developers build intelligent, enterprise-ready and cloud-scale apps — regardless of their platform, and to give them the peace of mind with the built-in security, performance, compliance features, support and SLAs available in Azure.

Azure Databricks

  • Designed in collaboration with the founders of Apache Spark, the preview of Azure Databricks is a fast, easy and collaborative Apache Spark-based analytics platform that delivers one-click setup, streamlined workflows and an interactive workspace. Native integration with Azure SQL Data Warehouse, Azure Storage, Azure Cosmos DB, Azure Active Directory and Power BI simplifies the creation of modern data warehouses that enable organizations to provide self-service analytics and machine learning over all data with enterprise-grade performance and governance.

Microsoft Joins MariaDB Foundation

  • Microsoft joins MariaDB Foundation as a platinum member and announces the upcoming preview of Azure Database for MariaDB for a fully managed MariaDB service in the cloud.

Azure Cosmos DB with Apache Cassandra API

  • The preview expands on the multimodel capabilities of Azure Cosmos DB to offer Cassandra as a service over turnkey global distribution, multiple consistency levels and industry-leading SLAs.

GitHub Roadmap for Git Virtual File Systems (GVFS)

  • Microsoft and GitHub will further their open source partnership to extend GVFS support to GitHub. GVFS is an open source extension to the Git version control system developed by Microsoft to support the world’s largest repositories.

Helping developers get more done

Microsoft is releasing tools designed to help developers, development teams and data scientists collaborate and work together more efficiently for application development, deployment and management. New tools and feature improvements help streamline essential tasks, so developers can focus more on getting apps to market across multiple platforms, and for any scenario — whether cloud, mobile or AI.

Visual Studio App Center General Availability

  • New cloud service for developers to ship higher-quality applications more frequently. Objective-C, Swift, Android Java, Xamarin and React Native developers can use App Center to increase productivity and accelerate application lifecycle, freeing them to spend more time on new features and better user experiences.

Visual Studio Live Share

  • Unique new capability for developers to collaborate in a seamless and secure way with full project context. With this preview, developers can share projects with teammates, or other developers, to edit and debug the same code in their personalized editor or IDE.

Azure DevOps Projects

  • The preview lets developers configure a full DevOps pipeline and connect to Azure Services within five minutes for faster app development and deployment. With just a few clicks in the Azure portal, developers can set up Git repositories, wire up completely automated builds and release pipelines without any prior knowledge of how to do so.

Transforming business through analytics and AI

Advances in AI and machine learning are placing the seemingly impossible within reach. The combination of cloud services, infrastructure and tools from Microsoft are designed to help any developer embrace AI and create apps across the cloud and the edge, harnessing the power of data and AI.

Azure IoT Edge

  • Azure IoT Edge preview availability, enabling AI, advanced analytics and machine learning at the Internet of Things (IoT) edge.

Azure Machine Learning updates

  • Integration with Azure IoT Edge and AI deployment on iOS devices with Core ML, bringing AI everywhere from the cloud to the IoT edge of devices.

 Visual Studio Tools for AI

  • Developers and data scientists can develop AI models with all the productivity of Visual Studio, on frameworks and languages. Updates to .NET make it easier for .NET developers to consume AI models from their applications.

Azure SQL Database Machine Learning services preview

  • Support for R models inside SQL Database makes it seamless for data scientists to develop and train models in Azure Machine Learning and deploy those models directly to Azure SQL Database to create predictions at blazing-fast speeds.

For the next three days, Microsoft is streaming more than 36 live, engineering-led training sessions that are designed to give developers hands-on experience with the tools and technologies featured throughout the keynote presentations.

More about Connect(); 2017 announcements can be found here.

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) is the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world, and its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

For more information, press only:

Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications, (425) 638-7777, rrt@we-worldwide.com

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Salesforce Chatter comes to Windows 10 – The Fire Hose

The Salesforce Chatter app enables cross-company cooperation that helps businesses drive productivity, accelerate innovation and share knowledge. Fast.

Salesforce Chatter is a forum for insights; a means to motivate and engage employees; and an easy way to exchange files, data and ideas. With it, you can track teams and projects wherever they are – in the office, on the road, at a conference, etc.

Dozens of functions and decisions can be executed right in the app, from conversations and approvals to edits and notifications, without waiting for a desk or a meeting.

So bring your company together, then move forward with Salesforce Chatter, free to download from the Windows Store.

Also, keep up with what’s hot, new and trending in the Windows Store on Twitter and Facebook.

Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff

Tags: Apps, Salesforce, Salesforce Chatter, Windows 10, Windows Store

Achieving Greater Business Productivity with PowerApps

September 14, 2017 10:00-11:00 AM Pacific Time (UTC-7)

The advances in productivity that modern enterprise software has brought to business users have always been tempered by the limits of standard software to meet industry-specific, geographically-specific, or individual company-specific requirements. This requirement, typified by the concept of “last mile” functionality, has only increased in recent years.

Historically, the solution taken by most organizations in their quest for the “last mile” was a high degree of customization. While customization can fill in the gaps, custom apps are typically expensive to develop and expensive to maintain.

In this webinar, hear from enterprise application analyst Josh Greenbaum, as he looks at how Dynamics 365 customers are leveraging PowerApps to achieve success in:

  • filling the “last mile” gap in productivity
  • enabling greater business user empowerment
  • increasing speed and ease of development
  • leveraging existing data and applications resources
  • gathering more data and delivering faster analysis to make better decisions

In addition, you’ll also see PowerApps in action with a demo from Luis Camino, Sr. Product Marketing Manager at Microsoft.

For customers and partners looking to achieve greater productivity in the enterprise, this webinar is for you.

Join us September 14th for this free webinar

Office 365 admins can evolve as platform expands

A move to Office 365 can leave administrators feeling nonessential in the cloud productivity platform. But it’s not all bad news: The switch can spur IT teams to develop skills and empower end users to take full advantage of cloud services.

Microsoft has added a number of new services to the Office 365 suite over the years, creating an integrated enterprise collaboration platform. The company recently delivered SaaS offerings for business analytics with Power BI, a phone system through the Cloud PBX service, Skype for Business and the Yammer enterprise social network. With each new service rollout, end users must understand the capabilities of the applications.

This means that, as Microsoft pours development resources into its cloud products, Office 365 admins see their duties shift from system troubleshooters to internal marketers. Rather than wait for employees to file tickets, Office 365 admins must be internal marketers who sell users on the benefits of each app.

Administrators also can take on system integration functions. Microsoft developed a series of APIs to link its services to other products. Office 365 admins can use these tools to improve key areas, such as system security, or to work with business managers to develop procedures, such as an automated document workflow.

Translate high uptime into me time

Microsoft promises 99.9% uptime to Office 365 customers. What’s the perk of this high availability? It frees the support staff to focus on improving company processes, said Tim Clark, president of consulting firm C3 Solutions. IT staff learns about the latest features in the rapidly growing Office 365 collaboration platform and then shares those findings with users to maximize application use.

In-house app stores can ease the IT workload

Microsoft created an application store with its partners to offer a variety of tools and apps, which have a few benefits for admins. An in-house app store gives Office 365 admins a way to deploy and maintain corporate apps more easily. It simplifies the choices for users with a list of approved apps that the IT staff supports. Additionally, administrators can track downloads and employee usage trends.

The app store not only solves issues that have plagued users, but it also enables companies to keep up with trends in social media and remote workforces. Employees often get frustrated when scheduling meetings; the third-party add-in FreeBusy Scheduling Assistant uses automation to make the process less of a chore.

Also, social media has blurred the lines between personal and business offerings. For example, Starbucks developed an Office 365 application for users to schedule meetings at the local store. The Zomato Restaurant Finder helps executives determine where to go for a business lunch.

But enterprise app stores have downsides. They must work with a wide assortment of technologies and vendors. And supporting such heterogeneous environments — without breaking the budget — is difficult. For instance, allowing end users to bring any type of phone into the organization could strain Office 365. Therefore, a company can limit the number of phones it supports. Additionally, companies might need to add applications that Microsoft does not directly endorse.

What is Microsoft’s Office 365 strategy anyway?

Since the emergence of Office 365, there has been some question about what Microsoft’s plan for these services is all about. In this podcast, Scott Robinson, a SharePoint and BI expert, notes, “Microsoft has done a lot of repackaging, and sometimes, that is just to cover the fact that they haven’t finished a product.”

“Enterprises may want to integrate Slack into their collaboration platform,” said Joshua Trupin, research vice president at Directions on Microsoft.

Other integration needs can arise. Typically, consumer mobile device apps act independently of one another, but businesses must integrate them with Office 365. For example, if a company wants to tie its order management app to the logistics product, the customer often has to build and maintain these links.

Regimented approach can tame costs

Most organizations have a mix of apps — some run on premises and others in the cloud. Develop a standardized approach to provision and manage these apps, and keep a close eye on the licensing agreements to avoid any unexpected bills from cloud app vendors.

To track and ensure license compliance, Office 365 admins can use financial management tools from suppliers — such as Cloudability, Cloudyn and VMware with vRealize Business for Cloud — to keep cloud costs in line.

The notion that public cloud is less expensive than other alternatives also has been challenged recently. Some businesses that operated without a strict cloud pricing arrangement discover these offerings cost more than anticipated.

Will new Salesforce Lightning features convince customers to migrate?

The summer release of the Salesforce Lightning platform offers new productivity and customization features, with the hope the upgrades will mitigate migration concerns — but some analysts and industry reports suggest that convincing existing customers to migrate will still be challenging.

Among the new Salesforce Lightning features are Lightning Console Apps, which allow administrators to create applications for their users quicker than previous Lightning iterations, and more customization features, including Path and Kanban, which allow organizations to manage and organize opportunities, accounts or other custom lists.

Other new features in the 2017 summer release include Einstein Powered Search, with type-ahead search capabilities and federated search, which allows users within Salesforce to search other databases that their data may be in. Lightning Report Builder, still in pilot, was also a new upgrade, and is expected to allow for better creation and management of Salesforce reports and dashboards.

‘Everything forward will be Lightning’

And while Ben Pruden, director of product marketing for Salesforce Lightning said that more than 100,000 customers have adopted Lightning, some of those adoptions could be because of shepherding customers toward using Lightning rather than the classic Salesforce platform.

How many of us want to use an old version of Facebook or Gmail? In the SaaS world, that doesn’t happen. When the vendor decides it’s time to go, it’s time to go.
Alan Lepofskyprincipal analyst, Constellation Research

“At the end of the day, Salesforce won’t be doing anything on the old style anymore,” said Alan Lepofsky, principal analyst at Constellation Research. “If a customer is hesitant to move to Lightning, I don’t want to imply that Salesforce is pushing customers along, but you do want to get with the program and jump on the ship. Everything forward will be Lightning.”

The new Salesforce Lightning features may address some of the migration issues, with more customization and what Salesforce is calling a “human-first design approach” that Salesforce expects to boost productivity.

“We don’t have a crystal ball on how our customers want to customize,” Pruden said. “This release is about all the new functionality. We always wanted to make an experience that gives every Salesforce customer the ability to create layouts and customizations that serve their users.”

Migration to Lightning still a concern

Features like the Lightning Console Apps that allow administrators to quickly deploy applications, the Lightning Dialer enhancement that, according to a Salesforce customer survey, results in 23% higher outbound call volume, focus on productivity and improved functionality. But migrating to Lightning can still be a difficult task, according to Forrester analyst John Bruno.

“The Summer ’17 Release makes Lightning more appealing, but I don’t think it gets people over the hump with regards to migrating to Lightning,” Bruno said. “For new buyers, it makes the decision to start from Lightning really easy, but for existing customers it’s more about getting their existing functionality to work in Lightning — with little friction — than it is about these new features.”

Technology consultancy Gartner agreed with that sentiment, noting in its latest sales force automation Magic Quadrant that Salesforce — while still an industry leader — had to address Lightning migrations for its customers. According to the report, Salesforce customers Gartner surveyed expressed concerns about upgrading to Lightning because of functionality gaps and the amount of resources needed to implement the new UI.

A view of the Salesforce Lightning Dialer
New Salesforce Lightning features focus on productivity and customization. The release includes upgrades to Lightning Dialer (above), Path and Kanban capabilities, and an improved Lightning Console Apps builder.

Mobile, desktop offer consistency

Lepofsky agreed with the concern about resources, saying that anytime there’s a new UI or upgraded application, companies worry about additional training needed. But he also believes the new Salesforce Lightning features offer more consistency in mobile and desktop, which could quell concerns about functionality gaps.

“The biggest bonus people tell me [about Lightning] is it’s more consistent between desktop and mobile,” Lepofsky said. “Updating their web version of the application has been a big win.”

And as far as existing customers needing to keep up with their software providers when it comes to new UIs or applications, Lepofsky said that’s the way of the SaaS world.

“How many of us want to use an old version of Facebook or Gmail?” Lepofsky said. “In the SaaS world, that doesn’t happen. When the vendor decides it’s time to go, it’s time to go.”

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Microsoft’s inspired new workspaces boost creativity and collaboration


Buildings 16 and 17 are two of the biggest at Microsoft headquarters – sturdy, brick-and-glass tributes to the practical 1980s, when the company was focused more on manifesting Bill Gates’ vision to put a computer on every desk and in every home than on the architectural prowess of its campus.

Inside, however, is a different story. There is light, air and art. There are new, retooled work spaces and vibrant common areas. Once fortresses of winding corridors, fluorescent lighting and private offices, the buildings were recently gutted and radically redesigned not just to be more interesting and modern, but to offer employees an unprecedented range of ways to get things done. In the parlance of the zip code, Buildings 16 and 17 have been totally hacked.

After all, it would be a non-starter for Microsoft to have the goal of empowering everyone on the planet to achieve more without trying to do the same for its own employees.

The buildings sport all the familiar hallmarks of a modern tech company – the plethora of free beverages, the ping pong and pool tables, the gourmet café, the standing desks. But from there, the offerings get more unusual.

For starters, Building 16 and 17 are office-free. Designed with the idea that there is no one best way to get work done, there are an unparalleled range of working environments. Employees and even executives work together in large, shared rooms called “neighborhoods.” They roam high-ceilinged hallways and stop for impromptu meetings in angular atriums designed to capture and perpetuate light. They head into large, glass team rooms to collaborate, or into one of the many focus rooms or cozy alcoves for privacy. They yell and whoop in an Xbox game room, and take their shoes off to quietly recharge in the company’s first-ever No Tech Lounge.

“It’s a new look for the new Microsoft,” said Jochen Liesche, a business manager for the Data Platform group who helped with the redesign. “I think ultimately the physical space really represents the culture here. It’s almost as if the physical space is a proxy for the company’s mission and its culture,” he said.

Read the full story.

The post Microsoft’s inspired new workspaces boost creativity and collaboration appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

Lumia 550: affordable productivity on the go

Powered by the new Windows 10 for phones, the Microsoft Lumia 550 has everything you need to help you #achievemore.


Microsoft Office apps

As our lives become ever more mobile, so does the technology and services we use.

The Lumia 550 comes preinstalled with Office apps like Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint so that you can be productive wherever you are.

You do not need to wait until you reach the office to view or edit Microsoft Office documents anymore. Instead, you can do it on the train, at the airport, in the back of a taxi – anywhere. By syncing your documents on OneDrive you are no longer desk-bound and can view and work on them anywhere with your Lumia 550.

A screen dream

The Lumia 550 features a premium 4.7-inch HD display that facilitates document viewing and editing and provides a great canvas for viewing your photos and browsing the Web, even in bright sunlight.

White and black Lumia 550, side by side.

With Windows 10, your photos are always easy to find, great to look at, and ready to share. The new Photos app makes sense of all your photos, syncs them, gets them organized and makes it easy to navigate across your Windows 10 devices – ideal if you’re taking photos of receipts that need to be included in an expense report, for example.

Microsoft Edge is the all-new browser that gives you a great on-the-go reading experience. With the new reading view, you can enjoy online articles in a distraction-free layout optimized for your screen. You’ll also like the convenience of having webpages and PDF files saved and organized in your reading list for enjoying later.

Enhanced email

Outlook Mail on Windows 10 provides a rich set of tools that will help get your email across in exactly the right way.

Besides using standard features such as “reply” or “forward,” with the familiar and rich capability of Microsoft Word built into the authoring experience, you can also format your message to include highlighted text, font colors, bold, italics and underscores, as well as strikethroughs.

Lumia 550 displaying the lock screen

Cortana, your truly personal digital assistant

Your Lumia 550 comes with your truly personal digital assistant to help you get stuff done faster and easier.

Cortana* can learn where you work and live** based on the locations you spend most of your time in to help you get to meetings on time. For instance, it can recommend whether you should leave early or not based on real-time traffic conditions.

Appointments are synced across your Windows 10 devices—such as the new Surface Pro 4 tablet or Surface Book—so you’ll always be up-to-date, and even receive reminders from Cortana.

Speedy downloads and uploads

Imagine that your boss emailed you several documents to review just as you head out of the office on a Friday afternoon. Rather than returning to your desk, download those files onto your Lumia 550 using the superfast 4G LTE internet connection.

Once downloaded, you can quickly view the documents on the 4.7-inch HD display and make any changes before sending them to the relevant members of your team.

With free secure cloud storage on OneDrive you can store and sync information across your Windows 10 devices and will always have access to your files also on your phone.***

Wallet friendly

One major factor for many when considering a productivity smartphone is the cost. Fortunately, the Lumia 550 comes with an affordable $139 USD price tag before local taxes and subsidies.

Are you planning on taking advantage of the Lumia 550‘s productivity skills? Let us know at @Lumia.

* Cortana available in select markets
** Location settings are required to be enabled
*** Free OneDrive storage is limited and varies by market

Microsoft acquires Mobile Data Labs to advance intelligent productivity solutions for the mobile workforce

I’m pleased to announce that Microsoft has acquired Mobile Data Labs, creator of the popular MileIQ app and an innovator in intelligent productivity solutions for mobile professionals. This acquisition is the latest example of Microsoft’s ambition to reinvent productivity and business process in a mobile-first, cloud-first world.

In the US alone, there are over 55 million small business employees, entrepreneurs and other mobile professionals. This “self-directed workforce,” as Mobile Data Labs calls them, are always seeking ways to reduce time and effort spent on administrative chores like mileage, expenses, time tracking and reimbursement. Mobile Data Lab’s MileIQ app 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. In fact, the average MileIQ subscriber is able to deduct $547 per month in business miles, putting money back in their pockets. MileIQ counts over 1 million users and has been the top-grossing finance app in the iTunes store for 20 months straight.

Cofounded in 2013 by Dan Bomze and Chuck Dietrich, Mobile Data Labs has assembled a world-class team dedicated to making it easier for mobile professionals to alleviate tedious tasks through the power of ambient data intelligence, freeing them to focus on their more important business objectives. The team will continue to build and offer mobile productivity solutions and look to take advantage of insights from Office 365 and the Office Graph.

We’re thrilled to welcome Mobile Data Labs to the Microsoft family to work on new ways to improve the productivity to millions more mobile professionals. I encourage you to start using MileIQ today by visiting the iOS App Store or Android Play Store.

Also see Mobile Data Labs CEO Chuck Dietrich’s blog post here.




Microsoft expands computer science education, partnership with Salesforce and your mind with Hacking Mars design challenge — Weekend Reading, Sept. 18 edition

TEALS, education, computer science, YouthSpark

High school juniors and seniors in TEALS classes at the public Boston Latin Academy last year took this photo to thank their TEALS volunteers for the computer science education instruction they provided.

The universe expanded in new ways, yet got more personal, this week at Microsoft. For one thing, CEO Satya Nadella announced a new commitment of $75 million to help young people around the world study computer science. Also announced: Microsoft’s strategic partnership with Salesforce will grow. And if you’re ready to help “The Martian’s” stranded astronaut Mark Watney get off the Red Planet, the Hacking Mars design challenge is your opportunity to come up with a solution.

Microsoft’s YouthSpark program will grow mightily over the next three years to increase access to computer science education for young people everywhere, especially those from under-represented backgrounds. In the U.S., where the TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools) program brings computer science education to both high school students and teachers, this flagship program of YouthSpark will spread from 131 schools in 18 states to nearly 700 schools in 33 states. Right now, computer science is offered in less than 25 percent of American high schools. Brad Smith, Microsoft president and chief legal officer, says Microsoft’s goal over the next decade is to reach 4,000 high schools.

Microsoft and Salesforce are strengthening their strategic partnership, which began last fall, to connect the Salesforce Customer Success Platform to Microsoft Office productivity apps and services. New solutions that integrate Salesforce with Skype for Business, OneNote, Delve and Windows 10 will empower companies to connect with their customers and collaborate more effectively. Nadella talked about the partnership and Microsoft’s mission at Dreamforce 2015 in San Francisco.

Salesforce, Power BI, business intelligence

Microsoft Power BI and the Salesforce content pack for Power BI.

No astronaut left behind: Enter the Hacking Mars design challenge. In the movie “The Martian,” coming Oct. 2, astronaut Mark Watney is trying to figure out how to get home from Mars after being left on the Red Planet, presumed dead by his crew. Gather up a team and enter the Microsoft Hacking Mars design challenge to come up with solutions to help Watney. You can also track his progress with a new interactive map from Bing. And teachers and students across the country will be able to download space-related curriculum through Bing in the Classroom.

The Super Bowl is going for the 50, and the NFL is using Surface to get there. The NFL is starting its countdown to a major milestone with Super Bowl 50 with some new Surface Pro 3s. The league provides the specially equipped devices, which include the Sideline Viewing System introduced last season, to all 32 teams. The Microsoft app lets coaches analyze full-color images from a previous offensive or defensive series, and plan their next plays more quickly. Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson told writer Athima Chansanchai that Surface has been “a game changer” for him. “The Surface has been exceptional to have on the sideline. When I get back to the sideline, I’m able to get the plays right away. Being able to zoom has a huge advantage, too. I can see everybody’s eyes, what they’re looking at.”

You can see everybody’s eyes and more with the official WWE Network app for Windows 10, our App of the Week. The free app lets WWE Network subscribers see all 12 WWE live pay-per-view events, including WrestleMania, groundbreaking original series, reality shows and documentaries. Want to catch up on the best of “Raw” and “Smackdown” replays? It’s there for you. Get the WWE Network app this weekend, and watch the WWE “Night of Champions” Sept. 20.

Windows, apps, Windows 10

The second annual Old Glory Relay, conducted by Team Red, White, and Blue and presented by Microsoft to benefit veterans, kicked off at sunrise on Sept. 11 in San Francisco. Fifty-nine teams of runners are on their way across country, with the 60-day, 3,540-mile journey expected to end at sunset on Nov. 8 in Washington, D.C. You can follow the runners’ travels and experiences by visiting the Microsoft Military Affairs blog.

military affairs, veterans, Old Glory Relay

This week we watched as Frederico Phillips and Maria Takeuchi redefined dance. Using Kinect for Windows, the two artists merge technology and dance as we’ve never seen before.

Wherever your journeys take you this weekend, near or far, enjoy! And join us again next Friday for Weekend Reading.

Posted by Suzanne Choney
Microsoft News Center Staff