Tag Archives: We Day

Microsoft grants help kids learn computer science, Earth Day is celebrated and influential engineer is honored — Weekend Reading: April 22 edition

From a huge effort to help kids realize their potential to a celebration of our dear old planet, this week brought plenty of interesting and inspiring news around Microsoft. We’ve rounded up some of the highlights in this latest edition of Weekend Reading.

Earlier this week, Microsoft announced grants to 100 nonprofit partners in 55 countries as part of YouthSpark, a global initiative to increase access for young people to learn computer science. In turn, these nonprofit partners — such as Laboratoria, CoderDojo and City Year — will use the power of local schools, businesses and community organizations to empower students to achieve more for themselves, their families and their communities.

The nonprofits will build upon the work that Microsoft already has underway through programs like Hour of Code with Code.org, BBC micro:bit and TEALS.

Every young person should have an opportunity, a spark, to realize a more promising future,” Mary Snapp, corporate vice president and head of Microsoft Philanthropies, wrote in a blog post on Wednesday. “Together with our nonprofit partners, we are excited to take a bold step toward that goal today.”

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Wondering what the next wave of breakthrough technology will be? Harry Shum, executive vice president of Microsoft Technology and Research, calls it an “invisible revolution,” and it’s transforming farming, allowing people from different cultures to communicate, helping people breathe healthier air, preventing disease outbreaks and much more.

“We are on the cusp of creating a world in which technology is increasingly pervasive but is also increasingly invisible,” Shum said.

This week on the Microsoft Facebook page, we joined the invisible revolution to preview the latest, most cutting-edge developments in artificial intelligence, machine learning and cloud computing. The possibilities are endless.

Invisible revolution GIF

Computer industry luminaries honored Dave Cutler, a Microsoft senior technical fellow whose impressive body of work spans five decades, as a Computer History Museum Fellow. The 74-year-old has shaped entire eras. He worked to develop the VMS operating system for Digital Equipment Corporation in the late 1970s, had a central role in the development of Windows NT — the basis for all major versions of Windows since 1993 — and helped develop the Microsoft Azure cloud operating system and the hypervisor for Xbox One that allows the console to be more than just for gaming.

“The Fellow awards recognize people who’ve had a tremendous impact on our lives, on our culture, on the way we work, exchange information and live,” said John Hollar, the museum’s president and CEO. “People like Dave Cutler, who probably influences the computing experiences of more than 2 billion people, yet isn’t known in a way he deserves to be, in proportion to the impact he’s had on the world.”

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Microsoft Philanthropies sponsored the annual We Day, supporting exciting events Wednesday in Seattle and earlier this month in Los Angeles. Nearly 30,000 attended the shows, which celebrate young people who are making a difference.

In supporting We Day, Microsoft aims to help young people drive the change they would like to see in their neighborhoods, schools and communities. Our photo gallery captures the highlights, famous faces and young people who were involved in this year’s events.

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In advance of Earth Day on Friday, Microsoft kicked off this week with inspiration and information about the company’s sustainability programs and initiatives, including ways you can take part in the efforts. The  brand new Environmental Sustainability at Microsoft website details how Microsoft’s company-wide carbon fee have financed significant investments in renewable energy to power its data centers, improved building efficiency and reached more than 6 million people through the purchase of carbon offsets from community projects around the world.

Microsoft, which has been a carbon-neutral company since 2012, is continually finding ways to make its products and their lifecycles more earth-friendly. Learn more about how Microsoft is commemorating Earth Day on the Microsoft Green Blog.

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Microsoft is also constantly working to help students achieve more. Some all-new education features coming in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update are specifically inspired by teachers and focused on students. A “Set Up School PCs” app lets teachers set up a device themselves in mere minutes, and a new “Take a Test” provides simple and secure standardized testing for classrooms or entire schools.

Learning will also get a big boost with Microsoft Classroom and Microsoft Forms, a OneNote Class Notebook that now has Learning Management System (LMS) integration and — perhaps most exciting to students — the dawn of “Minecraft: Education Edition.” Educators will be able to give it a test run in the summer months and provide feedback and suggestions.

In apps this week, the powerful mobile photo-editing app PicsArt is marking Earth Day by offering a series of green- and outdoorsy-themed photo frame and clip art packages. Several are exclusive to Windows customers. The PicsArt app is free in the Windows Store.

Need a little help juggling projects, priorities and other moving parts in your busy life? The Todoist Windows 10 app can help you stay organized, collaborate with colleagues and even empty your inbox by turning important emails into tasks.

Or for a little fun this weekend, go way beyond retro to prehistoric days in “Age of Cavemen.” In this multiplayer strategy game, you’re the village chief in a dangerous world, and you need to keep your people safe. Build an army, create alliances and destroy your opponents in a wild and wooly free-for-all.

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And that’s a wrap for this edition of Weekend Reading. See you here next week for the latest roundup.

Posted by Tracy Ith
Microsoft News Center Staff

The post Microsoft grants help kids learn computer science, Earth Day is celebrated and influential engineer is honored — Weekend Reading: April 22 edition appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

Tech Talent for Good launches, Microsoft Garage unveils new apps, language diversity embraced – Weekend Reading: Feb. 27 Edition

A lot of news and feats happened this week, making today’s Weekend Reading a catalog of great ideas to inspire you.

First up, Microsoft announced that its employees raised a record $117 million for nearly 20,000 nonprofits and schools in 2014. And to help employees give their time as well as money, the company unveiled Tech Talent for Good, a new program that encourages employees to help nonprofits with their technical skills. Microsoft also increased its company volunteer match to $25 per hour.

“Many of our employees have asked how they can do more for their local communities, and we are proud to provide this increased matching contribution and this new way to participate in the Microsoft Employee Giving Program,” wrote Kathleen Hogan, Microsoft executive vice president of Human Resources, and Brad Smith, Microsoft General Counsel and executive vice president of Legal & Corporate Affairs.

Microsoft employee Jeff Gollnick, left, volunteers at the Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center. Photo: Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures.

Microsoft employee Jeff Gollnick, left, volunteers at the Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center. Photo: Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures.

The creative brainiacs at The Microsoft Garage released nine new apps, proving again they’re not holed up in a studio playing foozball. The eclectic, cross-platform apps include Your Weather, which customizes air quality reports in China; Join Conference, a time saver for conference callers; and DevSpace, a tool for easy access to Visual Studio Online projects.

“Great ideas are easy. The magic happens where execution meets data,” said Ed Essey, senior program manager, whose business card reads “Captain of the Ship.” That magic would be the Garage, a global community of more than 10,000 Microsoft employees and interns.

Milind Solage and Soniya Khoja created DevSpace, one of nine apps released from The Microsoft Garage this week. Photo: Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures.

Milind Solage and Soniya Khoja created DevSpace, one of nine apps released from The Microsoft Garage this week. Photo: Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures.

Microsoft also made news and gave shout-outs to several of its teams in commemorating Saturday’s International Mother Language Day. Microsoft Translator introduced Yucatec Maya and Querétaro Otomi in an ongoing effort in preserve languages. Work continued on the ground-breaking Universal Shaping Engine, which allows you to type in Balinese, Tirhuta and other complex scripts in Windows 10. And Microsoft supported Chekov, a great tool for writing and recording dynamic eBooks – and increasing literacy in all languages.

Universal Shaping Engine supports the encoding of the Soyombo script, pictured.

Universal Shaping Engine supports the encoding of the Soyombo script, pictured.

Speaking of breaking new ground, Julie Larson-Green, chief experience officer for Microsoft’s Applications and Services Group, received the 2015 Women of Vision Leadership Award from the Anita Borg Institute. The award honors female trailblazers in technology.

For more than 20 years at Microsoft, Larson-Green has been a leader in user interface design and pioneer in product development and engineering. She’s the force behind the Office “ribbon,” which still shapes UI design today.

“Julie’s remarkable ability to unify leaders and teams to a single mission and create a shared vision of how technology can be built in a cohesive cross-system approach has led to significant product improvements,” the institute said.

Julie Larson-Green

Julie Larson-Green

The kids rocked it at We Day California, an annual celebration of young people who want to change the world. It’s sponsored by Microsoft YouthSpark. Microsoft also invited youths ages 13-25 to submit entries for the YouthSpark Challenge for Change, a global contest to use Microsoft technology and YouthSpark resources to creative positive social change.

Microsoft YouthSpark Advocates arrive at We Day California on Feb. 25, 2015 in San Jose, California. Photo: Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures.

Microsoft YouthSpark Advocates arrive at We Day California on Feb. 25, 2015 in San Jose, California. Photo: Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures.

Want to sound really smart? Hang out with Bing Predicts. The machine-learning algorithm correctly predicted the top six Academy Awards Sunday and foretold 16 of 19 Oscar wins. The feature is now setting its sights on the new season of “American Idol.” Remember, Bing knew last year’s “Idol” winner months before Caleb Johnson actually won.

And finally, Microsoft’s Instagram page made a stop in Los Angeles, where it met modern-day Renaissance man Sal Masekela. He’s a reporter, surfer, musician, filmmaker and action-sports host. Follow us on Instagram to find out what drives him to #DoMore.


Posted by Vanessa Ho
Microsoft News Center Staff

An ‘Uber for motorcycle taxis,’ beefed up Microsoft data services and the cloud gets bigger, and more secure — Weekend Reading: Feb. 20 Edition

Valentine’s Day may have come and gone, but there’s still love in the air: Love for technology that empowers. From the cloud to the classroom, to the streets of Uganda, this news is worthy of heart-shaped love letters. Read on!

Sometimes the best ideas are serendipitous. After getting a lift with app-sourced, ride-sharing service Uber while attending We Day California last spring, Joshua Okello and Aaron Tushabe had an idea: Design an Uber-like service for Uganda’s motorcycle taxis, or “boda bodas.” They envision the service as a way to improve the safety of hitching a ride for passengers, while raising the standard of living for boda boda drivers. Microsoft YouthSpark is sponsoring We Day in California, Feb. 25 in San Jose and We Day Washington April 23 in Seattle, again this year.


This week at the Strata + Hadoop World conference in San Jose, California, thousands gathered to explore the technology and business of big data. As part of the event we announced new and enhanced Microsoft data services: a preview of Azure HDInsight running on Linux, the general availability of Storm on HDInsight, the general availability of Azure Machine Learning, and the availability of Informatica technology on Azure. The goal is to bring big data to the mainstream.

Microsoft announced Thursday that its OneNote iPad app now has a handwriting feature, allowing users to write or draw with a stylus or finger. The tool lets users modify color, style and thickness of the digital ink, and a “palm rejection” feature customizes the tool for how you hold your pen. (Lefties, rejoice!) Microsoft also introduced optical character recognition (OCR) to all versions of OneNote. OCR lets you search for text in scanned receipts, lists, recipes and other documents saved in a OneNote notebook.

In other iOS integration news, iPad for Office Offline users will soon find more cloud storage options. Starting Tuesday, third-party cloud storage providers can natively integrate into the “Locations” picker in the iOS Office apps, making it possible to open, edit and save documents from these providers from within Office. “These new features represent a big step forward for Office integration into the apps and services that are important to our customers,” writes Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for the Office team.


Meet Albert Manero, a Fulbright scholar and doctoral student in mechanical engineering at the University of Central Florida who founded Limbitless Solutions to build affordable, bionic, 3D-printed arms, while making the designs available to others for free. He’s built one bionic limb for a 6-year-old boy, and another for a 7-year-old girl without a left forearm. Manero and the Limbitless team are featured in The Collective Project. Empowered by Microsoft’s OneNote, the project celebrates the journey of ideas into action, with ways for people to learn more and get involved.


Designing real-time services such as e-commerce, online gaming and social media that depend on cloud-computing platforms to be scalable and reliable is challenging ― but it’s a problem that Project Orleans overcomes. Microsoft Research this week revealed more details on this exciting platform, which provides a straightforward approach to building high-scale distributed computing applications, is open source and powered by Microsoft Azure.

Speaking of the cloud, Microsoft announced it’s the first major provider to adopt the world’s first international standard for cloud privacy. The standard is called ISO/IEC 27018, and it was developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), writes Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel and executive vice president for Legal and Corporate Affairs. What does this mean? The standard assures that you are in control of your data, you know what’s happening to it and Microsoft provides strong security protection for it. It also means that your data won’t be used for advertising and Microsoft will inform you of any government-prompted access.

In app news this week: Kids develop key skills when they mash the mushroom with Mash&Co, now available free from the Windows Phone Store; Microsoft kicked off a pilot program to help its employees eat healthier by using the Zipongo phone app, available for Windows Phone, iOS and Android; and AutoDesk Pixlr, a free photo editing app previously only available online and for mobile devices, now comes to your Windows PC, laptop and tablet.


This week in our global adventure to shine a light on people who #DoMore on the Microsoft Instagram page, we met Rich Sommer, Mad Men’s Harry Crane and a gamer of a different kind. #DoMore


Feel the love. And join us back here next week for more stories worthy of heart-shaped letters.

Posted by Aimee Riordan
Microsoft News Center Staff