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Would you rather battle trolls in a moonlit desert or dance with them in a sun-drenched forest? Project Spark lets users tap their inner game designer and create their own worlds and stories.
It all started with a question: “What if people could do whatever they wanted in a video game?”
Henry Sterchi is standing in front of a large Perceptive Pixel touchscreen, introducing the game his team has worked on for the past two years. On the screen a character stands alone in an empty world, a tiny blip surrounded by a sea of blank pixels.
Sterchi then starts to swipe his fingers across the screen. Mountains, rivers, and forests spring into existence. He paints a field of flowers and bores a tunnel through the earth for kicks.
In less than 10 minutes he’s created an impressively detailed world. He then picks up an Xbox controller, plops his character (informally known as “The Creator”) down into the world and starts exploring.
This is “Project Spark,” a digital canvas that lets users create, play and share their own worlds, games and stories. Players use a powerful set of tools to create and customize worlds for Windows 8 devices, Xbox One and Xbox 360 using touch, mouse and keyboard, or an Xbox controller. What they can create is bound only by imagination, said Sterchi, creative director on “Project Spark.”
Johnson Weru, ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg, supports technology that offers rural students educational and economic opportunities they never imagined.
When Microsoft introduced the Microsoft 4Afrika initiative to African leaders tied to the European Union at an event in Brussels in June, it was only natural for Johnson Weru, the Kenyan ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg, to attend. He wanted to show his support for 4Afrika, and for the technology projects that were equipping schools and villages in rural Kenya with touch-screen tablets and broadband Internet. But as the attendees watched a video, Weru was transported back to his childhood, to the rural village where he grew up — just a few miles from where the students on the screen were getting their first glimpse of computers and the Internet.
Lots of people say their work is a pain, and according to a new Microsoft Healthy Computing Survey, most of them aren’t kidding. Of those surveyed, 85 percent said they experience discomfort on a daily basis as a result of their workspace setup.
The survey coincides with Microsoft’s announcement of the next evolution of its ergonomic products – the Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop – the goal of which was to create something beautiful without sacrificing the ergonomic benefits provided by the industry-renowned Natural Ergonomic Keyboard and Mouse.
Xbox One won’t go on sale for a few months, but in the meantime you can now lay eyes on one at Microsoft retail stores across the U.S.
Where the heck did summer go? Many parents are sending their kids off to their first day of school – and older kids are getting back in the groove of waking up at the crack of dawn – but it’s still early enough to help students get a leg up with the 23 “Back to School” collection of Windows Phone apps.
Rudy Huyn has two lives.
In life one, he works at an office. In the other, he is a prolific and popular Windows Phone developer. (Contrary to comic book belief, he does not change in a phone booth or shed his glasses when moving between lives.)
In his spare time, Huyn has developed more than a dozen apps for Windows Phone, apps that together command more than 1.1 million users. He created the uber-popular Wikipedia app, a Vine app called 6Sec, TVShow, and he has just launched the highly anticipated 6Tag, an Instagram-like (and apparently Instagram-blessed) app. Oh, and it’s free.
This (non-caped) crusader of Windows Phone, who lives in Rennes, France, won Nokia’s competition The Next App Star competition in January. Despite his accolades and ever-growing group of users, the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) is humble.
“When I go to conferences, it’s a very strange feeling to meet people that know and follow me,” Huyn said. “But I’m not Jessica Alba, I’m only a developer that loves Windows Phone.”
For Lifehacker contributor Peter Ellwood, the key to a successful fantasy football draft is to stay organized. Really, really organized. On Friday he posted the epic Excel template he uses to stay on top of his game – and ahead of the competition – along with his four tips for using Excel to dominate the draft.
Who better to kick off Microsoft’s new store-within-a-store at Best Buy than kick-for-a-living soccer star Clint Mathis and his fellow Major League Soccer (MLS) players and coaches?
In June, Microsoft announced a partnership with Best Buy to create the Windows Store Only at Best Buy at 500 locations across the U.S. and more than 100 Best Buy and Future Shop locations in Canada. Wednesday, just in time for the back-to-school shopping season, the first of these Windows Stores will open at the West Los Angeles Best Buy, with a fleet of MLS players and coaches on hand to help celebrate. The soccer players will help show shoppers how to stay fit for back-to-school – from soccer drills on a full-size field in the parking lot to healthy food tips to the latest fitness and nutrition apps for Windows8 like Daily Workouts, Fitbit, Endomondo, MyPlate Calorie Tracker, BallStrike and MLS MatchDay.
Last night in West Los Angeles, Microsoft teamed up with Best Buy and Major League Soccer to celebrate the grand opening of the Windows Store Only at Best Buy. Hundreds of customers and fans were treated to clinics and drills on a custom-built soccer field in the Best Buy parking lot, with a special appearance from U.S. National Men’s soccer star and LA Galaxy legend Cobi Jones, as well as hands-on demos of fitness and nutrition apps like Daily Workouts, Endomondo and BallStrike on Windows 8 devices.
Later that night, lucky fans were able to meet former U.S. Men’s National Team player Clint Mathis and legendary Galaxy star Mauricio Cienfuegos. Here’s what some of the attendees had to say about their experience, via Twitter:
LA radio personality @ChueyMartinez turned up the excitement at the event:
We here baby #winstoreBBY in #WestLA I'll be here from 3:30- 5:30 Pico & Sawtelle Come out and say hi!! @bbynews :) pic.twitter.com/DllwwJy3qL
— Chuey Martinez (@ChueyMartinez) August 7, 2013
We here baby #winstoreBBY in #WestLA I'll be here from 3:30- 5:30 Pico & Sawtelle Come out and say hi!! @bbynews :) pic.twitter.com/DllwwJy3qL
The cash machine is surely one of the greatest advances of its time. It provides a reliable, secure and convenient way to withdraw, transfer and deposit funds from your checking or savings account from virtually anywhere: Longyearbyen, Norway, to McMurdo Station, and the Dead Sea to the sports bar around the corner.
But when the actual experience doesn’t live up to the expectation, the consequences can be disastrous — for the customer and the bank.
For China Minsheng Bank Corp. (CMBC), falling short of expectations isn’t an option. Currently, CMBC is China’s first privately-held commercial bank with nearly $89 million in cash on hand. And in 2011 the bank reported a 58 percent increase in net profit for its shareholders.
For a lot of people today, email is a constant companion. First thing in the morning or late at night, in the office, at the library or on the beach, email keeps us connected to friends, family and contacts.
But sometimes, you just want to talk face to face. Now, users of Outlook.com can do that too, with the announcement that the service’s integration with Skype is rolling out worldwide. Outlook.com users just need to install the Skype Web plug-in and they can begin using Skype to video call with their contacts today — right from their Outlook.com inbox. Once updated, the user’s Skype contacts are always just a click away.
“Email is an inherently personal thing,” says Dawn Martynuik, group product marketing manager for Outlook.com. “So we work hard to make sure that Outlook.com works with the things you already use, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google and now Skype. If you love Skype, you’re going to love using Outlook.com for your email and having the ability to video chat with your friends any time.”
If you’re a developer with a knack for spotting computer security problems, or just want to learn more about computer security, you’ll want to sign up for the Microsoft Security Research & Defense team’s BlueHat Challenge. It’s a series of progressively more difficult computer security problems designed to help you build and test your skills in three key areas: reverse engineering, vulnerability discovery and Web browser manipulation tricks.
FUSE Labs has a whole new way for people to explore their communities and neighborhoods.
Or rather, a "Whooly" new way.
Shelly Farnham and Andres Monroy-Hernandez, researchers with FUSE Labs at Microsoft Research (MSR), have created Whooly (HOO-lee), a Twitter aggregator that lets people know what's happening in their neighborhoods in real time. Released in beta today, Whooly will continue to evolve based on feedback from users. For now, the Whooly research project is focused on various neighborhoods in King County, Washington (which includes Seattle and Redmond).
If you’re an Xbox Live Gold member and into zombies, this is your lucky day. From now until Aug. 31, you can download both “Dead Rising 2” (normally $29.99) and “Dead Rising 2: Case Zero” (normally 400 points) for free. What are you waiting for – the zombie apocalypse?
If you aren’t a member, here’s what’s up: The Games With Gold program gives Xbox Live Gold Members two free games to keep each month. A new title becomes available the first and 16th of each month.
You may not know it, but Microsoft has played a role in some of the spectacular visual effects seen in “Avatar” and provided story guidance about the future for “The Island”.
In the latest episode of “On the Whiteboard”, Editor Pamela Woon speaks with Sebastian Sylwan, chief technology officer at Weta Digital, a five-time Academy Award winning visual effects company based in Wellington, New Zealand, and Microsoft Research’s Curtis Wong as they go behind the scenes on some of the most popular films of the past decade.
Wednesday marks the official launch of the Windows Store Only at Best Buy. In celebration of the launch, we are throwing an event in Los Angeles that shows how technology can activate and invigorate a healthier lifestyle.
With more than one-third of U.S. adults and nearly 18 percent of U.S. children described as obese according to the Centers for Disease Control, technology is more important than ever as a major tool in reversing those trends. Windows 8 apps integrate personalized coaching, nutrition advice and fitness gaming into active routines.
Having moved around a lot, I sometimes miss the radio stations from the cities where I used to live. But with the free TuneIn Radio app, I can listen to radio stations from all over the world on Windows Phone devices. TuneIn’s 70,000 stations and more than 2 million on-demand streams offer a formidable selection of music, sports, news and talk choices.
I’m also a fan of the annual Bumbershoot music festival – which fills the already music-and-arts infused city of Seattle with non-stop shows over the three-day Labor Day weekend – and this year, TuneIn will be showcasing their latest Windows Phone offerings on the TuneIn Stage.
In the new, free Windows 8 app Disney Infinity: Action!, you can be both the director and the star of your own original movie, with central casting bringing in characters from “The Incredibles,” “Monsters University,” and the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise.
Sometimes it’s better to let other people toot your horn for you. Take the new Xbox One controller. Stephen Totilo of Kotaku says, “…it’s hard to explain how much better the Xbox One rumble is than any other Xbox, Nintendo or PlayStation controller. On this, Microsoft has indisputably nailed it.” Or this, from Scott Lowe of IGN: “All of the ergonomic features you love are there with significant refinements and increased precision.”
The Openness @ Microsoft blog reports that a growing number of historically open source customers are embracing Microsoft technologies. Caixa Economica Federal bank in Brazil recently joined the group.
Caixa wanted to revamp their IT systems to “support growth, accelerate decision making, and take advantage of the transformative benefits of cloud solutions and mobile integration,” according to the Openness @ Microsoft blog. They also needed their new solution to work with existing IT investments that included open source software. Microsoft technologies fit the criteria.
If you have a smartphone, there’s really no excuse for getting lost nowadays. One app that will help you get from point A to point B is Telenav’s Scout GPS Maps, which works with Windows Phone 8 devices.
With this free app, you can get to where you need to go with a step-by-step turn list, search for nearby places and choose from multiple routes. As the Windows Phone Blog points out, you can also find points of interest, look at maps for cities and routes across the U.S., and navigate from point-to-point.
Unfortunately, scammers are creative and in seemingly endless supply. And Microsoft often hears of scammers trying to establish trust by using its name. Fortunately, a lot of savvy customers report these experiences. The Security Tips & Talk blog highlights a phishing scam that comes in the form of an email message claiming to be from Microsoft. The message states that the user’s email account is blocked and can only be unblocked with a credit card number. It’s not from Microsoft.
The Windows Phone team has hooked up with crowd-curated gift site Fancy on a new Back to School Box ($40) packed with goodies for your favorite student.
In developing the soon-to-arrive R2 Wave, Microsoft engineers closely examined what organizations need and want from the cloud. One theme they repeatedly heard was the desire to build an app once and have that app be able to live in any data center or cloud. Good news: That functionality is now here.
Corporate Vice President for Windows Server and System Center Brad Anderson writes, “Whether your app is in a private, public or hosted cloud, the developers and IT Professionals in your organization will have consistency across clouds.”
It’s probably not surprising that one of the most-asked questions we get from gamers is, “What games are coming to Xbox One?” We’re all about delivering the best games, so the list of global developers working on Xbox One titles is diverse, including renowned studios 343 Industries, Access Games, Bungie, Capy Games, Crytek, DICE, EA Sports, Infinity Ward, Insomniac Games, Kojima Productions, PopCap Games, Respawn Entertainment, Turn 10 Studios, Ubisoft Montreal and many more.
Want to know some interesting stats about Xbox One’s announced lineup of games?