The Fire Hose

Covering the news of the day at Microsoft

The Fire Hose

  • ‘Why I Don’t Read Your Resume’ and other insights from the Yammer team


    Yammer has lots of talented folks, and to prove it, in March the Yammer Product team embarked on a month-long adventure to produce a blog post every business day of the month.

    Topics ranged from “Why I Don’t Read Your Resume,” to “A UX Researcher Quit Her Job at Google to Work at Yammer. You’ll Never Believe What She Found Out.”

  • Holograph project brings interactive 3D platform to big data

    Curtis Wong, the Microsoft Research scientist who gave the world the WorldWide Telescope, demonstrated a project called Holograph during Microsoft Research’s Silicon Valley TechFair Thursday. It’s an interactive, 3D data-visualization research platform that can render static and dynamic data above or below the plane of a display, using a variety of 3D stereographic techniques.

  • Programmers: Naiad platform makes it easy to get data into Azure

    During Microsoft Research’s recent Silicon Valley TechFair, the “Naiad on Azure: Rich, Interactive Cloud Analytics” project showcased an aspect of the big-data movement that focuses on enabling data analysts to develop an application and then deploy it seamlessly to the cloud.

    Naiad, a .NET-based platform for high-throughput, low-latency data analysis, includes tools built atop Microsoft Azure to deliver interactive analyses of huge data sets.

  • Visual Studio Installer Projects Extension now available in preview

    Many customers asked Microsoft to bring back support for Visual Studio Installer projects, and so on April 17, Visual Studio Installer Projects Extension was announced, writes Tony Goodhew, Visual Studio Platform Team program manager.

    The preview release provides support for Visual Studio Installer projects in Visual Studio 2013, and the extension can be downloaded from the Visual Studio Gallery.

  • Microsoft Azure now in public preview in Brazil South region

    Microsoft Azure is now available in public preview in the Brazil South region, located in Sao Paulo state and will transition to general availability in the coming weeks, announced Steven Martin, Microsoft Azure marketing and operations general manager, in a blog post.

    With the public preview, customers in the region will experience better performance through reduced latency, and have the option to maintain three copies of their data in country through Locally Redundant Storage (LRS).

  • Windows Store sale includes ‘Chuggington Puzzle Stations,’ ‘Success Story!’ and glƏƏk!


    Six new Red Stripe Deals means savings of at least 50 percent on apps like glƏƏk! and games such as “Success Story!” and “Chuggington Puzzle Stations.” 

  • ‘Titanfall’ for Xbox One was No. 1 selling game in March, says NPD


    “Titanfall” for Xbox One was named the top-selling game in March, according to NPD Group figures released Thursday.

    In a blog post Thursday, Yusuf Mehdi, Xbox corporate vice president of marketing, strategy and business, wrote that more than 5 million Xbox One consoles have been shipped to retailers since the console’s launch on Nov. 22, 2013, with fans spending an average of five hours a day on Xbox One.

  • Silicon Valley TechFair reveals Microsoft Research’s inner workings

    Projectors, tablets, and other devices, combined with depth cameras, enable applications to span multiple screens. This work enables webpages to be experienced outside of your PC monitors to take advantage of all your devices in concert.

    Thursday, the Microsoft Research Silicon Valley lab hosts the Silicon Valley TechFair, an open-door event for customers, academia, and partners to learn more about the inner workings of Microsoft Research.

    The Silicon Valley community can check out 18 research projects which will be on display that showcase the future trends and technology areas that Microsoft scientists and engineers are exploring across the company’s global labs – such as environmental sustainability, tools for big data and engaging with machines in more intuitive ways. The TechFair provides the opportunity for attendees to explore and discuss the work directly with the scientists. The Microsoft researchers who worked on the research underpinnings of Cortana will also be there to showcase their role and work on Microsoft’s new personal assistant.

  • Microsoft Research: Cortana is the start of personal assistants that naturally anticipate your needs

    Most of us can only dream of having the perfect personal assistant, one who is always there when needed, anticipating every request and unobtrusively organizing our lives. Cortana, the new digital personal assistant that comes with Windows Phone 8.1, brings users closer to that dream.

    For Larry Heck, a distinguished engineer in Microsoft Research, Cortana will continue to evolve in an even more natural way. Already, Cortana goes beyond performing voice-activated commands. It continually learns about its user and becomes more personalized, with the goal of proactively carrying out the right tasks at the right time. If its user asks about outside temperatures every afternoon before leaving the office, Cortana will learn to offer that information without being asked.

  • Get crackin’! Win an Xbox One and Surface Pro 2 in the Great Skype Easter Egg Hunt


    You could win an Xbox One and Surface Pro 2 in the Great Skype Easter Egg Hunt, now underway and continuing through April 21.

    The Easter Bunny has visited Skype’s social profiles and hidden five “eggmoticons,” eggs with cute faces. They’re scattered around Skype’s Facebook, @Skype Twitter, @SkypeMoments Twitter, Instagram and YouTube pages. For a chance to win prizes, you need to find all five eggmoticons on those social channels. Then, sign into Skype, select “Add a contact,” and search for the Skype ID “Skype Easter Basket.” Then, using the emoticon library, IM the matching emoticons to “Skype Easter Basket.”

  • Sign up for a webinar to bolster internal compliance and identity systems

    If you’re interested in finding out how Microsoft can strengthen your internal compliance and identity systems, sign up for the May 7 webinar, “NERC CIP Version 5: Compliance Support with Microsoft,” at 10 a.m. PST.

    Join the Oxford Computer Group, Microsoft’s Larry Cochrane, EnergySec and other utility security experts in this panel discussion. While the focus is North America – the jurisdiction of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) –NERC’s actions have global ramifications and are watched closely by utilities, regulators and governments worldwide.

  • International company averda says Office 365, Yammer bring employees on two continents closer together

    In a guest post on the Office Blogs, Anthony Kurban, chief information officer of averda, the largest environmental solutions provider in the Middle East and North Africa, writes that before moving to Office 365 and Yammer, the company’s servers were stored on site in one country. It was something that didn’t suit a growing company that has plans to be in 50 cities within 10 years, he says.

    Averda works with businesses and governments of all sizes to collect, recycle, compost and dispose of waste. Not only has Office 365 made it possible for averda’s employees to be more productive no matter where they are working, Yammer has proven invaluable as well, he writes.

  • Go behind-the-scenes with ‘The Final Hours of Titanfall’ documentary on Windows tablets and PCs


    In “The Final Hours of Titanfall,” journalist Geoff Keighley takes you on a four-year, behind-the-scenes journey through the offices of Respawn Entertainment as it creates the hit game “Titanfall.” This virtual documentary chronicles the twists and turns of the game’s development and includes exclusive concept art, never-before-seen videos, interviews with more than 80 people and images by acclaimed photographer Art Streiber.

  • Go on a new medieval adventure through China in ‘Where’s My Water? XYY’


    XYY, a clever little sheep, needs your help in the new “Where’s My Water? XYY” – available on Windows Phone, tablets and PCs. His friends are trapped underground in a medieval city, and your skills at diverting water and new elements like fire and oil are vital to their rescue. 

  • Zombies and inner demons dominate ‘Deadlight,’ free Games with Gold title until April 30


    Welcome to the world of fighting both zombies and inner demons in “Deadlight,” a survival-horror adventure. It’s available to Xbox Live Gold members, who have access to Games with Gold on Xbox 360 and get a new, free game every two weeks.

    “Deadlight,” available for free until April 30, puts you in the rapidly moving shoes of Randall Wayne, who is desperate to get back to his family amid the horrors of a zombie apocalypse. In the game’s bleak-yet-lush atmosphere, built on a heavily customized Unreal Engine 3, Wayne faces not only the living dead, but his own inner demons.

  • Bing donates scholarships for military vets

    General Assembly, a global group that provides practical education in business, technology and design, has unveiled the Opportunity Fund, a scholarship and support program. The pilot program is in New York City and will serve underrepresented students entering the technology industry. As part of the program, Bing is underwriting eight scholarships for military veterans.

  • New All-in-One Media Keyboard lets you easily navigate photos, videos from tablet to TV


    There’s nothing like sharing our photos and videos on the big screen – our home TVs – with family and friends from the comfort of our couches. Microsoft’s new All-in-One Media Keyboard lets you do that easily when you connect a laptop or tablet to a TV.

    The All-in-One Media Keyboard has a multi-touch trackpad next to its full size keyset so you can not only type things but swipe, drag, drop, zoom and click, writes Brandon LeBlanc. There are also three buttons above the trackpad that you can customize for quick access to your favorite apps, including Xbox Music or Video, Netflix and Hulu.

  • #MSFTCOSO POV: How and when to have the ‘e-talk’ with your kids

    The following post is from Jacqueline Beauchere, Chief Online Safety Officer at Microsoft. Once a month on The Fire Hose, Beauchere gives her point of view on topics related to the global consumer online safety, privacy and security landscape. Follow the conversation on Twitter at #MSFTCOSO.

    If children have access to online technology, it’s never too late—or too early—to teach them sound habits and practices that will help keep them safer online. Such tips can help parents decide what issues are important for their families, starting with what I call “The Four Es” – Engage, Educate, Enforce and Evaluate.

    Historically, in Western culture, when having “the talk,” adults agonized over explaining “the birds and bees.” Today, that critical dialogue—or monologue in many instances—has all but been supplanted by how to talk to kids about various aspects of digital freedom. With some simple guidance, this “e-talk” doesn’t have to be painful or awkward. So, whether it’s a mobile phone, a social media profile or texting privileges, how to use technology safely, responsibly and appropriately, together with family rules, help create the recipe for good digital citizenship.

  • Blaze a new trail with 8 hiking and outdoor apps for Windows Phone and Windows


    TouchMountain app for Windows Phone helps you identify nearby peaks.

    Finally. The season is beckoning us outdoors, into the sunshine, and we’re ready to go. Now it’s only light-jacket time, no heavy-duty parkas needed. But how to cut down on some other gear you might want to take? Of course you’ll have your Windows Phone device with you. And that means you can add some very useful apps to your mobile to help guide you as you go, and give you many of the tools you’ll want while you’re out and about.

    You’ll find many apps in The Great Outdoors Collection in the Windows Phone Store. But here are eight to start with for Windows Phone and for Windows. These apps can help you safely blaze your own trails as you enjoy the weeks and months ahead:

  • Building an efficient future began in the cloud for facility service provider ABM

    ABM, one of the largest facility service providers in the U.S., acquired The Linc Group in 2010, and needed to figure out how to deal with with several work-order management systems that could relay work activity to employees in the field. A solution, developed by Xelleration, led ABM to the cloud.

    ABM needed to develop a solution that “pulled information across platforms into a simple interface,” write Katie Knoll and Anthony Novotne of Xelleration. Workers needed to be able to view the status of current work activities, take on new ones and earn rewards to encourage efficiency and quality, “all inside a secure device agnostic field-deployable application.”

  • You’re not crazy, the music for ‘Super Time Force’ is like reliving the Nintendo years


    If you’ve seen any videos of Capybara Games’ upcoming "Super Time Force" — a “time-bending, side-scrolling shooter with some of the most beautiful pixel art this side of the 1980s” according to Xbox Wire — you’ve probably heard the music of Jason "6955" DeGroot.

    His hypnotizing soundtrack is the backdrop for the frenetic action in the game, and it’s all based around NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) sounds, he says, which are “simple pulse/triangle/noise waves.”

  • You can now use to import and manage your Yahoo Mail


    Starting Wednesday, customers can import and manage their email from Yahoo Mail, the Office Blogs reports.

    To help you, the import wizard in will take you through the steps to import and manage your Yahoo Mail, Gmail or other IMAP-enabled email providers. You can keep your old email addresses, but manage all of them from one place:

  • Microsoft and Brazilian state team up to release crime monitoring system

    On Wednesday, Mariano de Beer, general manager of Microsoft Brazil, announced that Microsoft and the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil, have deployed Detecta, an intelligent system for monitoring crime.

    The governor of the Brazilian state of São Paulo, Geraldo Alckmin, has deployed Detecta, an intelligent system of crime monitoring for use in his jurisdiction. This tool, jointly developed between Microsoft and New York City, uses cutting-edge technology to improve police work. In New York City, this technology has been used for counter-terrorism efforts, as well as other types of crimes. This is the first time that the tool will be used outside of New York City. The first results of the deployment are expected to be seen four months after implementation.

  • Combine ‘Zoo Tycoon’ and LEGO for charity, and you get ‘Build for Good’


    Microsoft and six other Seattle-area companies participated in LEGO’s “Build for Good” charity event recently where five-person teams were challenged to create something beneficial for humanity using only LEGO Mindstorm EV3 kits.

    The souped-up LEGO kits sell for $350, and have electronic components that can be programmed to perform a variety of tasks such as grasping, traveling along paths and sensing objects via infrared.

  • How to make ‘intelligent’ cities more sustainable ecosystems

    Cities may be getting good at collecting data ― they can monitor traffic, for example, and deploy services accordingly. But in order for them to truly be “intelligent”, these cities must also become more sustainable, writes Gary Wachowicz, industry managing director of Microsoft’s Worldwide Public Sector.

    Until recently, the discussion around intelligent cities has been focused on improving efficiency. The newly formed, non-profit City Protocol Society is working to elevate the conversation to one of sustainability, and a long-term view of productivity and livability.