The Fire Hose

Covering the news of the day at Microsoft

November, 2013

  • Before you hit the mall, download these Windows Phone apps

    Need some help with your holiday shopping? Our friends at the Windows Phone Store are here to help! They've gathered a collection of Holiday Shopping apps that will help make it easier for you to find the perfect gift. Download your favorites and you’ll be prepared to compete with the swarms of shoppers.

  • Only you can stop an evil plot in ‘9 Clues: The Secret of Serpent Creek’ for Windows Phone

    You’re Detective Mode in the gritty style-noir puzzle-adventure game, “9 Clues: The Secret of Serpent Creek.” It’s your task to investigate the mysterious town of Serpent Creek, and stop an evil plot to bring the evil Snake God back to our world.

    It all starts with a desperate call from friend and famous reporter, Helen Hunter. She is in the coastal town of Serpent Creek, and needs help immediately.

  • Find a new home and estimate property values with new Zillow app for Windows

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    If you’re shopping for a home, or want to know how much yours is worth, download the new Zillow app for Windows

  • 4 ways Skype can help your business spread holiday cheer

    The holidays are a great time for businesses to show their customers, partners and employees how much they’re appreciated, and with Skype you don’t have to blow a ton of budget in the process. On Tuesday, Skype’s Workplace Blog listed four ways to easily and inexpensively spread holiday cheer.

    One is with video messages, which you can record and send to any of your contacts. During the holidays, consider assembling your team to sing an original seasonal song, recite a funny holiday poem – or just thank people for their contributions to your business.

  • Holiday shopping is easy on Windows PCs and tablets with these must-have apps

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    The holiday shopping frenzy has begun, but there’s no reason to rush out into traffic or crowded malls.

    With your Windows PC or tablet in hand and the apps in the Windows Store’s Holiday Shopping Collection, you can easily check off everyone on your list. Find what you’re looking for with Amazon, eBay, Zappos, HSN and more. That’s a screenshot of the Zappos app above.

  • Behind the scenes of delivering Skype for Xbox One

    In July 2012, less than a year after being acquired by Microsoft, the Skype team embarked on a monumental project: developing Skype for Xbox One. Last week, the world began enjoying the fruition of that project, and on Tuesday, the Skype blog chronicled the journey.

    “There were three core things we knew we needed to get right: performance, simplicity and Kinect integration,” notes Todd Roshak. “All the while, knowing full well, Skype needed to run seamlessly and efficiently in the background and in tandem to all other apps and services.”

  • Conquer the moon in ‘Hill Climb Racing’ for Windows Phone

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    In the quirky driving game “Hill Climb Racing,” Newton Bill is an eager uphill racer who finds himself facing hills in a place where no racer has ever been before – the moon!

    Send him barreling through different environments and 15 stages, boost him to bonuses with daring tricks, and collect coins to upgrade his vehicle – everything from a locomotive or snowmobile to a water taxi.

  • The Hunger Games Explorer site sparks conversation while giving fans platform solidarity

    “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”– the second film in the wildly popular trilogy – hit theaters on Nov. 22. The trilogy was inspired by the gladiator games of ancient Rome, but in the futuristic “Hunger Games,” pre-selected children are the ones fighting to their death. “Hunger Games” fans are among the most enthusiastic out there, having “broken all sorts of social media records with their conversations about the beloved series,” said Internet Explorer Director of Marketing, Roger Capriotti. The IE team has witnessed much of the fan frenzy on The Hunger Games Explorer site they developed in conjunction with Lionsgate and RED Interactive Agency.

  • Buying a PC for Mom? Tip No. 1: Talk with her first!

    If you’re thinking about getting your mom a new PC over the holidays, good for you! But beware the temptation to make it a surprise, or you could end up getting her a device that’s great for a 14-year-old gamer but not ideal for the things she enjoys. What are those things? Only she can tell you.

    That’s the first tip in a new Windows Experience Blog post about finding the right PC for your mom. The post goes on to list a variety of things your mom may want to do – like storing and editing photos or taking part in video chats – and then noting what features a PC will need to help her do that.

  • Is Surface right for you? 2 new videos help you compare it with the competition

    Deciding which devices to purchase for family, friends and yourself? As you consider the alternatives, think about what you want to do on your tablet. Surface is designed and built for people who want to do more and be productive on a tablet. That means different things to different people, so the Surface team has put together a series of videos (with more to come) to show how Surface compares to its competition in accomplishing the things you do every day.

    In the video above, you can see what a great friend Surface is to have in the kitchen, with hands-free support that’s super convenient when you’re preparing a meal.

  • App of the Week: Bing Food & Drink

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    The Bing Food & Drink app makes it easy to explore recipes from all around the world, choose from more than 100,000 wines and cocktails, and learn tips from celebrity chefs like Wolfgang Puck and Tom Colicchio to make your next meal a taste-tempting success with family and friends.

    The app provides beautiful photos (like those shown here), easy-to-follow instructions and tools such as a shopping list and meal planner to help you prepare your next culinary masterpiece. You can also use the app to enter notes or upload your own favorite recipes, and then share them with a single tap of your finger. The app also has a bevy of articles, slideshows and videos about food and drink.

  • Accelerometer, Gyrometer or Inclinometer? Tips on choosing the best sensor for your Windows 8 apps

    Sensors let an app know the relationship between the device and the physical world around it. They can “help make your game, augmented reality app, or utility app more useful and interactive by providing a unique form of input,” explains a post on the Windows App Builder Blog. However, choosing the best sensor for your app is key.

    The video above provides a quick overview of the sensors available on Windows 8, and the blog post goes into more detail on how to choose the best sensors for your app, and offers great tips and tricks, including how to use multiple sensors in an app.

  • Find a bounty of apps pre-integrated with Windows Azure Active Directory

    Windows Azure Active Directory (AD) lets organizations connect their on-premises Windows Server AD identities to the cloud. This enables end users to single sign-on into cloud-based applications without needing to log in with multiple passwords. If you’re wondering what apps would work with Windows Azure AD, it turns out there are a lot.

  • Manufacturing companies using mobile tech to gain a competitive edge

    Manufacturers today are focused on improving operations and finding cost savings in order to stay competitive. Mobile technology is helping them do both by providing more nimble and effective ways to manage pipelines and track systems, which in the process helps manufacturers boost their value to customers.

    A Microsoft Vertical Industries blog post on Thursday describes how Microsoft mobile technologies play a big part, with real-world examples and videos showing tangible benefits for manufacturers and their customers.

  • Improved search comes to Skype for Mac 6.11

    Skype for Mac 6.11 is now available and boasts a host of improvements, including a better search experience.

    Search has been improved to allow you to more easily find all relevant content. You’ll see this in the new behavior of the conversation’s find toolbar, which now searches into the past for you. The improvements should lead to less scrolling, and you can also search for more types of messages in the Search field, including file transfers.

  • Seek vengeance, save the empire: Check out the newest trailer for ‘Ryse: Son of Rome’

    Xbox Wire has published a new trailer for “Ryse: Son of Rome” in which a hero rises to seek vengeance and save the Roman Empire. Check it out.

  • Look at ‘em all! Xbox Live Game store Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales for Xbox 360 announced

    Major Nelson just posted a listing of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales for Xbox 360 games. Head over to his blog post to take a gander and prepare to save big as you shop for the Xbox 360 gamers on your list.

  • Recap from Microsoft’s annual meeting of shareholders

    The following post is from John Seethoff, deputy general counsel and vice president, Legal and Corporate Affairs, Microsoft. It was originally published on Microsoft on the Issues.


    I want to thank the Microsoft’s shareholders who attended or voted at this year’s Annual Meeting of Shareholders. Nearly 84 percent of outstanding shares were voted. Microsoft shareholders:

    • Elected nine directors to serve on the Board of Directors until the next annual meeting. All director nominees received more than 90 percent of votes cast.
    • Approved the material terms of the performance goals under the Executive Officer Incentive Plan with more than 97 percent of votes cast.
    • Approved, on an advisory basis, the fiscal year 2013 compensation of the company’s named executive officers. The advisory measure received more than 95 percent of votes cast.
    • Ratified the selection of Deloitte & Touche LLP as Microsoft’s independent auditor for fiscal year 2014, with more than 98 percent of votes cast.

  • Sesame Street Touch & Learn TV now available exclusively for Windows PCs and tablets

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    Parents who grew up with Big Bird, Grover, Elmo and other favorite residents from one of childhood’s most beloved streets and want to share the “Sesame Street” experience with their own kids can do so now with the Sesame Street Touch & Learn TV app, exclusive to the Windows Store.

  • Details emerge for Microsoft Partner Network program’s new timeline

    At the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in July, Microsoft made a decision to modify the release timeline for partner program changes. And now, there are more details about it and what you can expect.

    In a blog post published Monday on the Worldwide Partner Conference 2014 site, Julie Bennani, general manager for the Microsoft Partner Network, lays out the two program releases, first in February and later in the third quarter of 2014.

  • Get your handy-dandy reference sheet for Xbox One voice and gesture commands

    OK we know at least one million of you now own an Xbox One, and we want to make it as easy as possible for you to start enjoying your new console to the max. To help you get familiar with the most groundbreaking feature – the wide range of gestures and voice commands you can use with Kinect to control your console – the Xbox team has published a reference sheet you can download and print.

    You’ll find dozens of commands for everything from firing up the Xbox One to calling your parents via Skype, to recording your finest gaming moments or easily using a QR code. Enjoy!

  • Buy EA games such as ‘Monopoly’ and ‘The Sims 3’ on sale at the Windows Phone Store

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    If you don’t feel like waking up at the crack of dawn to get Black Friday deals, you’re in luck – Entertainment Arts has put some of its most popular games on sale at the Windows Phone Store with savings of up to 60 percent for the bargain-hunting gamer.

  • 12 frenzy-worthy Black Friday deals on PCs, tablets, Nokia devices and more

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    Who needs a separate tablet and a laptop when you can have both? The versatile and detachable HP Split x2 two-in-one PC combines power and portability, featuring Windows 8 and powerful third-generation Intel Core processors. The vibrant 13.3-inch diagonal HD touchscreen display on the Split x2 makes it easier to view and share content, play games with friends and family, and enjoy high-quality music. Save more than $200 with Best Buy’s discounted price of $499. Nov. 28 - Nov. 30 in the U.S. only, subject to availability.
    HP Split x2 PC for $499
    November 26, 2013
    Who needs a separate tablet and a laptop when you can have both? The versatile and detachable HP Split x2 two-in-one PC combines power and portability, featuring Windows 8 and powerful third-generation Intel Core processors. The vibrant 13.3-inch diagonal HD touchscreen display on the Split x2 makes it easier to view and share content, play games with friends and family, and enjoy high-quality music. Save more than $200 with Best Buy’s discounted price of $499. Nov. 28 - Nov. 30 in the U.S. only, subject to availability.
    Image: Web | Print
    See also: Best Buy

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    This time every year, millions of Americans scour ad inserts and search the Web before mapping out their strategies and setting their alarms for the mother of all shopping expeditions: Black Friday. As the official kick off to the holiday shopping season, Black Friday has nearly become as much of a tradition as Thanksgiving itself. According to a survey from the National Retail Federation (NRF), this year will draw approximately 97 million shoppers on Black Friday, vying for the season’s hottest deals.

  • Staff App Pick: Metrotube

    Each week, we bring you a new app recommendation from one of our colleagues. This week’s Staff App Pick comes from Jon Williams, a senior marketing manager at Microsoft.


    It’s hard to imagine a world without YouTube. Young or old, who doesn’t enjoy a good clip of dancing cats, laughing babies or whatever other Internet memes or popular this week?

    Metrotube (from Lazyworm Applications Ltd.) delivers a beautifully designed YouTube player experience that is my personal favorite across any platform.

  • Decorate your PC for winter with these gorgeous new Windows themes

    The Windows team just released a fresh set of free Windows themes, and they’ve included several wintry selections for your seasonally appropriate enjoyment. Take a peek at those below, then pop over to the Windows Experience Blog to see all six new themes.