The Fire Hose

Covering the news of the day at Microsoft

The Fire Hose

  • Microsoft announces sustainable energy partnership with University of Texas, San Antonio

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    As part of Microsoft’s effort to reinvent the datacenter to be more efficient and use more sustainable energy sources, we’re forming a 3-year agreement with the University of Texas at San Antonio to develop distributed generation technologies, writes Brian Janous, director of energy strategy.

    Students at UTSA will work hand-in-hand with Microsoft researchers to look into new “fast-start generation” energy technologies such as micro-turbines to replace the diesel generators that are used during times of peak demand.

  • Taking natural interaction with computers to the next level

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    Imagine a future when we’ll do more than touch, swipe and tap away at our interactive work stations, but will communicate with our devices increasingly through voice and gesture.

    In meeting rooms, massive touchscreens will let multiple people interact simultaneously, while tracking who and where we are, what we’re doing and saying, and adapting accordingly.

    This is the new NUI (natural user interface), and the Holy Grail for those who believe that computing will someday be as natural as breathing.

  • App of the Week: Step up to the high-stakes table with ‘World Series of Poker: Full House Pro’

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    If Jokers wild, one-eyed Jacks and Aces high are your thing, then you need to check out “World Series of Poker: Full House Pro” in the Windows Store right now.

    The Microsoft Studios-designed game lets players build their bankroll as they compete against others from around the world. You can personalize your experience with flashy avatar accessories, amazing chip tricks and real-world casino venues.

  • Microsoft chosen by Emirates Airline as key partner for World Cup ad campaign

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    Emirates Airline and its media agency Havas Media Group have chosen Microsoft Advertising as a key partner for the airline’s World Cup advertising campaign.

    The campaign, which began March 28 and ends April 21, features soccer legends Cristiano Ronaldo and Pele aboard Emirates’ flagship aircraft, the Airbus A380, and runs across services including MSN, Xbox, Windows 8 and Skype on four different screens (PC, TV, tablet and mobile).

  • Get more out of the Skype Community with tips on subscriptions, advanced searches and replies

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    To stay up-to-date with Skype, the Skype Community should be one of your go-to destinations. Skype’s Tips & Tricks blog shows you how to make the most of the Community through forum subscriptions, advanced search features and helpful replies. 

  • Internet of Things website shows how hospitals benefit from new and existing data and devices

    The Internet of Things encompasses all kinds of new technologies and services that enable hospitals, for one, to bring together existing systems and data – while maintaining compliance and security and improving patient care.

  • Get a jump on the excitement with EA Sports’ ‘2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil’ for Xbox 360

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    Can’t wait for the FIFA World Cup in Brazil in June? There’s help at the ready: EA Sports’ “2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil,” now available for download to Xbox 360.

    Choose from 203 national teams, and immerse yourself in FIFA World Cup play in authentic Brazilian stadiums, filled with pageantry and passion. The game also has 100 new animations.

  • Students, with help of Skype, visit glacier atop Eyjafjallajökull volcano

    Eyjafjallajökull, the ice-capped Icelandic volcano that erupted in 2010, shut down air traffic across Europe and stranded millions of passengers worldwide. But, with the help of Skype, students from the US and UK recently visited the glacier atop the volcano and got to see how the ice is rapidly retreating.

    Their guide was Pall A. Davidsson, founder of Vox Naturae, an Icelandic nongovernmental organization and Skype in the classroom partner that works to raise awareness about the importance of global snow and ice. With Skype on his Nokia Lumia smartphone and Lenovo laptop, Davidsson hosted the walk as part of Skype in the classroom’s Exploring Oceans.

  • ‘Archie Riverdale Rescue’ merges classic comic with city building simulation for Windows PCs and tablets

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    Riverdale, home to Archie and his pals from the classic comic series, has fallen into ruin. You help the gang rebuild it in “Archie Riverdale Rescue.” 

  • Find medieval mayhem in ‘Dragon's Blade II FX’ -- exclusively on Windows Phone

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    The sequel to “Dragon’s Blade” is now available exclusively in the Windows Phone Store and with it comes battles in a mysterious land brimming with monsters, dungeons and hidden treasure. “Dragon’s Blade II FX” is a classically styled turn-based role playing game (RPG) that can be played solo or with other players online. 

  • Hurry! Xbox Gotham-themed games sale and Xbox Live Spring Sale end April 21

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    It’s Batman fever during this spring fever week – be sure to check out the Gotham-themed games and add-on deals in the Xbox Games Store, with discounts of between 50 and 75 percent.

    And don’t miss the deals available on this week’s Xbox Live Spring Sale, with savings of between 33 and 75 percent.

  • Hands on with ‘Below’ from Capybara Games: ‘You’re always one hit away from dying’

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    In a screenshot from “Below,” a tiny character lands on what seems to be a deserted island, with cliffs towering above.

    “Below,” Capybara Games' upcoming game for Xbox One, is about exploration, but to explore you’ll need to survive, says Nathan Vella, Capybara Games president. And that’s no small feat.

    "The key things we're taking are procedurally generated dungeons, permanent death and brutal-but-fair combat … you're always one hit away from dying,” Vella told Xbox Wire last weekend at PAX East 2014 in Boston.

  • Developers: Submit Windows Phone 8.1 and universal Windows apps through new dev center

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    With the opening of the Windows Phone Dev Center, developers can now publish Windows Phone 8.1 apps and link Windows and Windows Phone apps to create universal Windows apps. Monday’s release also includes enhancements to address feedback. 

  • Microsoft Azure updates include improvements to websites, virtual machines and mobile services

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    The Microsoft Azure team has made big improvements to several areas, including websites, virtual machines, virtual networks, mobile services and notification hubs. 

  • New Intelligent Systems Service, built on Azure, offers secure management of big data

    The Internet of Things (IoT) is “clearly one of the most important trends in data,” and not only does Microsoft envision data from IoT solutions being well served by the data platform, but “we need to ensure the end-to-end solution can be realized by any customer,” writes Quentin Clark, Data Platform Group corporate vice president, in a blog post.

    Microsoft’s Intelligent Systems Service, he says, previewed at the “Accelerate Your Insights” conference Tuesday in San Francisco, is an Internet of Things offering built on Microsoft Azure, which makes it easier to securely connect, manage, capture and transform machine-generated data regardless of the operating system platform.

  • Converting data into fuel for ambient intelligence

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    As large quantities of data generation and consumption become ubiquitous in our increasingly mobile-first, cloud-first world, more and more interactions between humans and computers are becoming digitized — and inhabiting the nooks and crannies of everyday life.

    “The opportunity we have in this new world is to find a way of catalyzing this data exhaust from ubiquitous computing and converting it into fuel for ambient intelligence,” says Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella. “This fuel will power improved experiences, understanding and interactions.”

  • Microsoft Avro Library release announced

    On Tuesday, the release of Microsoft Avro Library was announced. The release brings complete .NET implementation of the Avro serialization format to Azure HDInsight Service and to the open source community, writes Maxim Lukiyanov on the Windows Azure blog.

    The Avro library is available from NuGet gallery. In Visual Studio, the package can be installed or updated from NuGet Gallery or NuGet Package Manager.

  • ‘Titanfall: Expedition’ downloadable content is coming in May

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    “Titanfall: Expedition,” the game’s first downloadable content pack, will be released in May, and brings with it three new maps — Runoff, Swamplands and Wargames — that represent the latest stomping grounds for the IMC Expeditionary Forces.

    The downloadable content pack will be $9.99 for both Xbox One and Xbox 360. There will be two more “Titanfall” DLC packs coming from Respawn Entertainment. If you buy a $24.99 season pass, you’ll get each pack as soon as it drops (plus some savings).

  • Xbox One system update, including notifications of online friends, starts rolling out

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    The next Xbox One system update, which includes adding notifications to see when friends sign into Xbox Live, is rolling out now and over the next few days.

    The update also adds a progress bar to show the status of game saves. Controller and headset adapter firmware updates that reduce audio static and improve wireless connectivity are part of the system update.

  • Microsoft announces 2014 YouthSpark Challenge for Change finalists

    After reviewing entries from more than 50 countries, the judges for this year’s Microsoft YouthSpark Challenge for Change contest have selected 20 finalists.

    Hailing from around the globe, these impressive youths have plans to use higher education, technology, music, and even toys, to help make the world better for those living with disease, disability, in poverty, or following natural disasters, reports the Microsoft Citizenship Blog.

  • Staff App Pick: Take a wild and trippy ride with simian.interface for Windows and Windows Phone

    Each week, we bring you a new app recommendation from our colleagues. This week’s Staff App Pick comes from David Chou, principal technology evangelist in Developer & Platform Evangelism at Microsoft.


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    Like finding a $20 dollar bill tucked away in a drawer from a forgotten time, it’s always a delight discovering unique and interesting games from the Windows Store and Windows Phone Store. simian.interface is just such a hidden gem.

    It’s a simple puzzle game that makes ingenious use of abstract shapes, beautiful colors, spatial and visual patterns, all mixed with a psychedelic electronic soundtrack to deliver a surreal and intellectual experience.

  • Office 365 Personal, for one PC or Mac and for one tablet, now available

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    The new Office 365 Personal is now available, and it may be the right-sized plan for individuals who have one PC or Mac and one tablet (including iPad) to be connected to the service.

    The subscription is $69.99 a year, or $6.99 a month, and is available online at Office 365.com, Microsoft Stores and through online and retail partners.

  • Missed PAX East 2014 in Boston? Catch up with Major Nelson’s podcast

    Sunday’s PAX East 2014 Podcast Panel is now available for download from Major Nelson’s blog.

    Larry Hryb, Xbox’s Major Nelson, is joined by several folks, including Xbox Wire’s Jeff Rubenstein, to talk about the news and events from the game conference held last weekend in Boston.

  • Travel the world with Bing’s new Windows themes for your desktop

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    Bing shares stunning photographs every day on its home page, and now you can have some of them on your Windows desktop with the new “Best of Bing 2013” theme collection. It’s one of nine new Windows themes that can take you around the world without leaving your chair.

    Among the other eight: “Wild Beauty” by photographer Charles Bergman, with gorgeous wildlife and landscape photography from Antarctica, Patagonia, the Falkland Islands and the Galápagos, as well as nature and urban themes captured by photographers in Japan, Hong Kong, the French Riviera, New York City and Manitoba.

  • Fend off monsters in ‘LEGO Hero Factory: Invasion from Below’ – new to the Windows Store

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    If you’ve been around 5- to 7-year-old boys, you might know something about the “LEGO Hero Factory.” They’re way more complex than the LEGOs I grew up with. And as “LEGO Hero Factory: Invasion from Below” shows, the video game stories are more interesting, too.