Tag Archives: Seattle

Xbox is at PAX West 2018 – Xbox Wire

Xbox is bringing games, gear, and more to downtown Seattle for PAX West August 31 – September 3. Whether you’re joining us in person or following along on social media and Mixer, here’s what you can expect:

Xbox Booth
North Hall, 4th Floor, Booths 403, 411, 417

Experience a few of the games that make up Xbox One’s diverse line-up at the Xbox booth. We’ll have playable demos of Forza Horizon 4, The Division 2, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Devil May Cry 5, NBA 2k19, Metro Exodus, Kingdom Hearts III, Tunic, Ooblets, Kingdom Two Crowns, Generation Zero, Bendy and the Ink Machine, Supermarket Shriek, My Time Portia, and some new DLC from State of Decay 2. You will also have the opportunity to earn a Cuphead Pinny Arcade pin, participate in a Tomb Raider-themed scavenger hunt, guess the amount of Nuka Cola caps in a Fallout 76 experience, visit the Game Pass vending machine, and pick up exclusive Xbox Official Gear for the first time at PAX.  (PAX Badge required)

Mixer
North Hall, 4th Floor, Booth #425

Drop by booth #425 in the North Hall to meet up with some of your favorite broadcasters and Mixer Partners, and for a chance to win swag in the HypeZone LIVE! In addition to that, there’s also going to be a main stage at PAX featuring our Mixer Partners, developers, and so much more. Can’t make it to PAX West in person? No problem! Watch all the action happening at PAX West via Mixer.com/Mixer and Mixer.com/HypeZoneLIVE!

Want the full rundown? Make sure to get all the latest details from the official Mixer blog, right here: https://blog.mixer.com/2018/08/22/mixer-pax-west-2018/

Xbox PAX West Panels

Find out more about streaming and the Xbox Adaptive Controller at these panels featuring Xbox and Mixer members. (PAX West badge required.)

Building Your Streaming Community
Wyvern Theater, Saturday, September 1 from 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Building a community comes with many challenges and hurdles, good news is we’re here to help! We’ve gathered a council of content creators to discuss the ins-and-outs of building a great online community in your own livestreams. We’ll be smashing myths and sharing the facts about streaming to help you set a foundation for a positive and effective community.

The Xbox Adaptive Controller: Designed with the Community
Sasquatch Theater, Sunday, September 2 from 12:30pm-1:30pm

The Xbox Adaptive Controller is the newest controller by Xbox, created to help people with limited mobility play. Larry Hryb will lead a conversation with pivotal community experts and representatives of game accessibility organizations like AbleGamers and Stack Up, along with one of the controller’s creators.  We’ll describe the journey of designing the controller leveraging the input of gamers with disabilities from the start… and where we need to go next.

Xbox One Summer of PUBG Tour

The Xbox One Summer of PUBG tour will be making their final stop in Westlake Center during PAX West. No badge required to visit! Check out the PUBG bus and enter to win it or one of many other prizes. More information can be found here.

Xbox PAX West Sweepstakes

PAX West 2018 Sweepstakes Image

Enter for a chance to win one of 11 Xbox Design Lab controllers, influenced by some of our favorite games. Xbox Design Lab allows you to create your own personal controller from over a billion different color combinations, metallic finishes, and rubberized grips. Check it out and design your own controller at xboxdesignlab.xbox.com.

There are two ways to enter:

  • Take a photo of your favorite Xbox Design Lab controller in the Xbox booth and share via Twitter using #XboxPAX #XboxDesignLab #Sweepstakes. Don’t forget to follow @Xbox while you’re at it!
  • Follow @Xbox or @XboxCanada on Twitter and retweet one of their tweets mentioning the sweepstakes and including #XboxPAX #XboxDesignLab #Sweepstakes.

You have until September 3rd to enter. The contest is open to anyone from the US or Canada. Click through for the Official Rules.

See you at PAX West! For more Xbox news, follow @Xbox on Twitter, visit the Xbox PAX West website, and stay tuned to Xbox Wire.

Microsoft from GeekWire Cloud Tech Summit: New Azure innovations will advance the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge

Today, I gathered with the tech community in the Seattle area at the GeekWire Cloud Tech Summit to talk about how customers are using the cloud and what the future holds. I joined GeekWire’s Todd Bishop and Tom Krazit on stage for a fireside chat to share more about Microsoft’s vision for emerging cloud innovation, but I also got to connect with many of you directly. In those conversations, it became even more apparent just how many of you are turning to the intelligent cloud to explore how emerging innovation like serverless, blockchain, edge computing, and AI can help you create solutions that can change your business — and people’s lives.

At Microsoft, we’re continually releasing technology that’s inspired by our customers and what you tell us you need to make the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge a reality for your businesses. For example, you may need to build applications to work in remote areas with low connectivity. Or you need to store, access, and drive insights from your data faster because of competitive pressures. And, you need confidence that your data and applications will be secure, resilient, and highly available across the globe.

During my time with Tom and Todd, I announced a few of our latest Azure solutions and newest regions and availability zones designed to bring this vision to you, our customers, and I’d like to share more on these new technologies.

Introducing the next level in big data analytics

Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2 and general availability of Azure Data Factory capabilities

Data is currency for enterprises today, and we know you need to be able to easily store and quickly access your data to drive actionable insights. You also need to be able to ingest and integrate big data quickly and easily to get to insights more readily. Today, we are introducing a preview of a highly scalable, highly performant, and cost-effective data lake solution for big data analytics, Azure Data Lake Storage Gen 2, to deliver the scale, performance, and security needed by your most demanding and sensitive workloads. 

Because Azure Data Lake Gen2 is built on the foundations of Azure blob storage, all data — from data that is constantly in use through to data that only needs to be referenced occasionally or stored for regulatory reasons — can coexist in a single store without having to copy data. This means that you will have greater speed to insight over your data along with rich security at a more cost-effective price. Azure Data Lake Storage also provides a unified data store where unstructured object data and file data can be accessed concurrently via Blob Storage and Hadoop File System protocols.

Today also brings the general availability of new features in Azure Data Factory to deliver data movement as a service capacities so you can build analytics across hybrid and multicloud environments, and drive raw data into actionable insights. The new features include a web-based graphical user interface to create, schedule and manage data pipelines, code-free data ingestion from over 70 data source connectors to accelerate data movement across on-premises and cloud, and ability to easily lift SQL Server Integration Services packages to Azure and run in managed execution environment in Azure Data Factory. You can also start taking advantage of native ADF connector for Azure Data Lake Storage to load your data lake at scale.

Enabling the intelligent edge

Azure IoT Edge is generally available

In the next 10 years, nearly all our everyday devices and many new devices will be connected. These devices are all becoming so “smart” that they can power advanced algorithms that help them see, listen, reason, predict and more, without a 24/7 dependence on the cloud. This is the intelligent edge, and it will define the next wave of innovation in how we address world issues: distributing resources like water and oil, increasing food production and quality, and responding to natural disasters.

As key part of our strategy to deliver the promise of edge computing is Azure IoT Edge, which enables consistency between cloud and edge. This means you can push AI and machine learning to the edge, providing the most comprehensive and innovative edge offering on the market. As of today, Azure IoT Edge is generally available globally, with new updates for increased flexibility, scalability, security, and more.

Also today, the Azure IoT Edge runtime is open sourced and available on GitHub. If you are a developer, this gives you even greater flexibility and control of your edge solutions, so you can modify the runtime and debug issues. Azure IoT Edge now also supports more languages than another other edge solution including C#, C, Node.js, Python, and Java, and we’ve added support for the Moby container management system. Additionally, we’ve released a Device Provisioning Service that enables you to provision tens of thousands of devices with zero touch. The new Security Manager for Azure IoT Edge acts as a well-bounded security core for protecting the IoT Edge device and all its components by abstracting the secure silicon hardware.

Azure IoT Edge customers like Schneider Electric and a farmer in Carnation, Washington are building sophisticated solutions that deliver real-time insights in areas with unreliable connectivity. Now that the solution is production-ready, with enhanced features, we can’t wait to see what else you build.

Azure global infrastructure

New Azure regions

We continuously invest in our cloud infrastructure to give you more compute power to enable the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge. We’ve announced 54 Azure regions to help you deliver cloud services and apps to nearly every corner of the globe and to provide everything that’s needed to run mission-critical applications, across scenarios, with a full set of resiliency solutions.

Today, we expanded our Azure presence in China, one of the most dynamic cloud markets in the world, with two additional regions now generally available. We were the first international cloud provider in China in 2014 (in partnership with 21Vianet), and today’s announcement doubles the number of Azure regions available there. We continue to see immense opportunity in China for cloud services to fuel innovation and multinational corporations including Adobe, Coke, Costco, Daimler, Ford, Nuance, P&G, and Toyota, which are choosing our intelligent cloud services to help deliver for their customers in China. This builds on our recently announced plans to expand our cloud infrastructure in Europe and the Middle East and announced plans for new regions coming to Norway

We’re also constantly increasing Azure’s resiliency capabilities with the addition of new Azure Availability Zones. Our Availability Zone in the Netherlands is now generally available, adding to the Zones already available in Iowa and Paris. The combination of region pairs and Availability Zones not only increases Azure’s resiliency capabilities, but broadens customer choice for business continuity architectures and delivers an industry-leading SLA for virtual machines.

It’s an exciting future

It was great to see all of you at GeekWire Cloud Tech Summit today. For those of you who weren’t able to be there live, you can follow along online. As always, we will continue to focus on building the technologies you need to drive innovation and disruption with the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge. Let us know what you think about these new solutions by sharing your feedback and comments.

Creating a city of inclusion for our country’s Special Olympics athletes – Microsoft on the Issues

Special Olympics athlete Virginia Wade with her mother
Special Olympics athlete Virginia Wade, left, who is from Seattle, with her mother. Virginia was one of 22 skiers chosen to represent the U.S. women’s team in the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games.

On July 1, 4,000 athletes and coaches from across the country will arrive in Seattle to compete in the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games. Microsoft is proud to be the presenting sponsor of these games. It will be a special week for all of us – the athletes, the city of Seattle and our region, including Microsoft’s employees. As the honorary chairman of this year’s USA Games, I’m delighted to welcome athletes from near and far who are coming not just to compete, but to celebrate their well-earned achievements.

What began as a backyard summer camp in the 1960s by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the sister of former President John F. Kennedy, Special Olympics has grown into the world’s largest sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities. Shriver recognized how sports brought communities together, encouraged teamwork, built social skills and instilled confidence. She also believed that everyone, no matter their ability, deserved an opportunity to grow, learn and experience joy through sports.

Fifty years after the first games, the Special Olympics boasts more than 5.7 million athletes in 172 countries and more than 1 million volunteers around the world. And while the organization has played a transformative role in the lives of athletes with intellectual disabilities, it also became a global movement of acceptance and inclusion. Through sports, health, school and youth engagement, the organization brings people around the world together, with and without intellectual disabilities, to teach tolerance, unity and respect.

Special Olympics USA Games 2018 logo

For Microsoft, it’s an honor to sponsor this year’s milestone event that celebrates diversity and inclusion in a way no other organization has. “Diversity and inclusion” is a key component to how we understand and work toward our mission every day: To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. That’s why we’ve partnered with Special Olympics since 2014, using cloud-based data management to transform how the games are run and how athletes are cared for, while supporting the group’s efforts to build a more inclusive global community.

This year, athletes challenge Seattle to “Rise with Us” and make the 2018 games the most inclusive Special Olympics to date. Already, the games are well on that path with 39 percent of competitors participating in Unified Sports (teams of athletes with and without intellectual disabilities), youth-led leadership initiatives, thousands of volunteer opportunities, and the special events designed for the broader community to participate. And this summer’s games will be one of the largest sporting events ever to come to our city, with an expected 50,000 spectators.

As the Pacific Northwest prepares for the arrival of the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games, state and local leaders, businesses, organizations and individuals have an important role to play in creating a region that welcomes everyone. This summer’s games are about much more than sports. They’re about creating a city of inclusion where everyone is welcome and can contribute their talents and skills.

One of the best ways you can show the world this spirit of inclusion is to support the games. Attend the opening ceremonies, to be held on July 1 at the University of Washington’s Husky Stadium. Cheer on athletes who will be competing in 14 sports at events across the region. Volunteer for one of the 10,000 positions needed to make these games a success.

This summer’s games offer the opportunity for each of us to ask important questions, challenge our biases, learn together and act collectively to create more inclusive communities. In other words, this year’s USA Games will require each and every one of us to rise to the occasion and show the world what the Special Olympics – and Seattle – stand for.

Tags: 2018 Special Olympics USA Games, Brad Smith, inclusion, Special Olympics

4-H youth leader rocks the Hour of Code, plans to continue the movement in her community – Microsoft on the Issues

4H youth leader and Seattle Seahawk player with student in Microsoft Store in Bellevue, Washington
4-H youth leader and TEALS student Nora Medina, left, and Seattle Seahawks player Luke Willson participate in an Hour of Code with a student Dec. 5 at the Microsoft Store at Bellevue Square Mall in Bellevue, Washington.

Earlier this fall, Microsoft and National 4-H Council announced a partnership to support young people to be digital leaders, equipping them with the digital skills and other resources to help them make an even bigger, positive impact on their communities. Youth leaders are working with educators, community members and others to identify challenges their communities face, and to use technology to address those challenges.

Nora Medina, from Quincy High School in central Washington state, is working to inspire kids to learn to code, and help adults build digital skills to close the digital divide in her community. We caught up with Nora during Computer Science Education Week when she visited the Microsoft Store in Bellevue, Washington, alongside Seattle Seahawk Luke Willson, to coach elementary school students through their first Hour of Code. Nora and Luke used the new Minecraft tutorial for Hour of Code, called Hero’s Journey, which introduces kids to coding in a fun and engaging way. While our partnership with 4-H is wide-ranging, going beyond digital skills, computer science was the focus of this conversation with Nora:

4H youth leader and TEALS student Nora Medina with Seattle Seahawk Luke Willson
4-H youth leader and TEALS student Nora Medina with Seattle Seahawk Luke Willson.

How did you discover computer science?

I was introduced to coding and Code.org in middle school in an afterschool club. I started by playing with Minecraft and JavaScript. After that I got involved in Digital Tools class, which opened up more classes at my high school, where I learned web design. I realized you can do so much with your imagination and your creativity. Nothing limits you!

Why do you think learning to code is important for kids today?

Coding is everywhere! If you know coding, companies will be more inclined to hire you. You’ll have more skills to offer.

What can you tell us about your involvement with 4-H?

We’re starting a service project where the main focus is teaching adults digital skills. There’s a gap between students and parents. If we teach adults about digital skills, and why we’re on our phones so much, that can bring us closer as a community, and opens up more opportunities for parents and adults!

Microsoft is a leading supporter of Computer Science Education Week because the lack of access to computer science education threatens to widen the income gap between those who have the skills to succeed in the 21st century and those who do not, impeding students’ ability to eventually thrive in their future careers. We’re inspired by young people like Nora Medina who are stepping forward to help us, and others, address the problem.

In the United States alone, there are over 500,000 open computing jobs, however last year, less than 43,000 computer science students graduated into the U.S. workforce.  Learning to code is one of the most important steps students can take to prepare themselves to fully participate in, and benefit from, our digital economy. That’s why Microsoft Philanthropies is working to help young people and adults become creators of technology, advance their careers and grow their local economies by making computer science education and digital skills available to everyone.

Learn more, and find resources to start learning to code, or to teach others, by visiting your local Microsoft Store or https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/digital-skills/hour-of-code.

Tags: Computer Science Education Week, Hour of Code, Microsoft Philanthropies, Microsoft Store

Microsoft boasts SQL Server machine learning services

SEATTLE — While SQL Server 2017 continues to get attention for opening up to Linux, many of Microsoft’s database advances revolve around various ways the company is opening up analytics on its flagship database. Case in point: SQL Server machine learning services.

Open source data frameworks and development languages increasingly have become a path to next-level data analytics and machine learning, and SQL Server support is central to this strategy.

The clues are various. Even before 2017, Microsoft brought Apache Spark and the R language into the mix. Earlier this year, the Python language joined R as part of a newly minted Azure Machine Learning developer kit.

The story took a new turn at PASS Summit 2017 last week, as Microsoft featured the capability for Azure Machine Learning users to bring their analytics models into SQL Server 2017 for native T-SQL runtime scoring. An essential element in machine learning, scoring is a way to measure the likely success of machine-generated predictions.

Native T-SQL scoring can process large amounts of data at an average of under 20 milliseconds per row, according to Rohan Kumar, general manager of Microsoft’s database systems group, who spoke at PASS Summit. Native T-SQL scoring takes the form of a stored procedure for prediction that can be used without calling Microsoft’s R runtime, as was the case with SQL Server 2016.

This capability is important because models built and trained to, for example, suggest new products to likely buyers can produce results while the buyers are actually web browsing. As SQL Server machine learning services head in this direction, their use could grow.

Machine learning models

Supporting such scoring in the Microsoft database could make machine learning analytics more a part of operations and less an experimental effort, according to Ginger Grant, advanced analytics consultant for SolidQ and a presenter at the event.

“Traditionally, what has happened is that you’ve had a data science group that sort of sat in the corner creating machine learning models. They then threw that ‘over the wall’ to developers who had to code it in another language,” Grant said in an interview.

“Native T-SQL scoring allows people to modularize their work and environment, so things can be operationally implemented relatively quickly,” she said.

Microsoft’s new SQL Server machine learning services will help with real-time prediction, said Victoria Holt, who also took part in PASS Summit. She is an independent data analytics and platforms architect, as well as a trainer at SQL Relay.

“It is great to be able to leverage machine learning computation in-database,” she said.

This year’s inclusion of Python in the Microsoft Machine Learning workbench is also a step forward, Holt said. But it will take time for such new technologies to spread.

Holt noted that the “addition of Python extends the use of deep learning frameworks in the product. The retrained cognitive models will speed up consumption. But there is significant user training and upgrading that will need to happen before these models are adopted.”

Beyond T-SQL stored procedures

Microsoft’s moves are all about being more welcoming to open source communities.
Jen Stirrupfounder of Data Relish

Microsoft analytics advances discussed at PASS Summit were not limited to T-SQL. The company previewed scale-out features for Azure Analysis Services to improve response time for large query workloads on the cloud.

The company also moved to simplify data preparation for analytics in the cloud by releasing a public preview of Azure Data Factory that includes the ability to run SQL Server Integration Services in ADF.

Growing Microsoft SQL Server 2017 support for Python and R is significant, according to Jen Stirrup, founder of the U.K.-based Data Relish consultancy and PASS Summit board member.

Python is something of a portal to a crop of machine learning services entering the open source sphere almost daily. In Stirrup’s view, deeper support for advanced analytics is the next step for big data, and Microsoft is tuned to that notion.

“The company understands that customers really want to do something with the data,” she said.

“The data is such a key thing. It underpins your applications. Today, that means you have to reach out to software and languages that are not necessarily part of Microsoft’s .NET,” Stirrup continued. “Microsoft’s moves are all about being more welcoming to open source communities.”

Top five reasons to join us for the PASS Summit 2017 Day 1 Keynote

PASS Summit 2017 takes place from November 1 to November 3, in Seattle, Washington at the Washington State Convention Center. This year’s event guarantees to be an exciting time to reconnect with the community, see friends old and new, and learn about new product features and enhancements. Microsoft would like to invite you to join us for the Day 1 Keynote by Rohan Kumar, which takes place on Wednesday, November 1, at 8:30 AM.

Rohan and the Microsoft Data and AI engineering teams will highlight how our customers and community have shaped the latest products and feature enhancements — many of them based on your feedback. This continuous innovation loop is how we have accelerated innovation across our products and services. But the process doesn’t focus on code, it focuses on you and your requirements. Product telemetry, technology blogs, PASS meetups, all the time and anyway we can, we want to listen to what you have to say.

The keynote will be jam-packed with practical demonstrations, giving you a chance to see your feature requests in action. In fact, there are so many great announcements and demos coming that we made a list of the Top five reasons to join us for the PASS Summit 2017 Day 1 Keynote:

  1. Accelerate performance – Bob Ward will demonstrate the super fast performance that SQL Server 2017 can achieve, while Conor Cunningham will talk about why performance tuning doesn’t have to be manual drudgery anymore.
  2. Get started with Dev Ops – Tobias Ternstrom and Mihaela Blendea will show you quick and painless new ways to set up a development environment, made possible by SQL Server 2017 support for Windows and Linux containers.
  3. Create powerful insights in real time – Danielle Dean will demonstrate how high performance and scale in Azure SQL Database can combine with built-in AI to create new and powerful insights from IOT data.
  4. Conquer analytics at scale Community member Scott Currie, CEO of Varigence, will show you how the latest version of Azure Data Factory can combine with partner technologies like BIML to automate data movement in the cloud. Julie Strauss will show off incredible analytics performance gains made possible by the new compute-optimized tier in Azure SQL Data Warehouse.
  5. Leverage business intelligence across on-premises and cloud – Christian Wade will demonstrate fast, interactive analysis over large amounts of data in Analysis Services, on-premises and in the cloud. And Riccardo Muti will showcase new features in Power BI Premium that can bring interactive reports and queries and stunning visualizations to your users, wherever your data lives.

That was just a taste of the demos that we hope will surprise you, please you, and make your life just that much easier when you take your new knowledge back to work next week. Registration for this event is almost full, but there are still a few passes left. Or, you can purchase session recordings to stream or download and watch at home. Sign up at the PASS Summit Website.

If you’d like to learn more about the latest enhancements in the Microsoft Data Platform, visit our data platform webpage, or data platform overview on Azure.