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Windows on Theory
Posted by Rob Knies
The launch of Windows 8 late last year provided developers with new opportunities to construct paradigm-shifting apps that can stand out in a busy application ecosystem via their ability to capitalize on touchscreen technologies.Such an evolution doesn’t come along too often in the software industry, and developers have responded in a big way. In its first two months, the Windows Store, which came online at the same time Windows 8 was offered for general availability, enticed visitors to download more than 100 million apps. The Windows Phone Store has surpassed 1 billion downloads. And computing usage of Windows Azure has doubled.This new direction for developing and delivering great ideas will gain even more momentum at San Francisco’s Moscone Center from June 26 to 28 when Microsoft hosts Build 2013, a chance for software engineers to witness presentations from the developers who produce the company’s products and services.
Moshe Tennenholtz is an accomplished man. An Israel-based principal researcher with Microsoft Research New England, he has performed pioneering work bridging computer science, artificial intelligence, and game theory. He also has co-founded several e-commerce companies. Given such a varied, successful background, there’s little these days that can faze him.Yet when he learned he had been named winner of the 2012 Allen Newell Award from the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, he couldn’t have been more surprised.“It was announced to me by phone by the chair of the committee [Eric Grimson, chancellor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology],” Tennenholtz says. “I didn’t even know what he wanted to talk to me about.”
What constitutes an annoying ad on the web? Is it the use of garish colors, as in a Halloween theme gone amok? Is it a page seemingly designed to cram in as many blinking, spinning, animated GIFs as possible? Is an ad annoying when clicking it generates a pop-up in response?Certainly the use of any of these tactics can act to irritate web users on occasion. Just as certainly, anybody with even a modest acquaintance with the web probably can cite at least one such ad-induced headache. The typical response might turn an old cliché on its head: “I don’t know much about annoying ads, but I know them when I see them.”That, though, isn’t sufficient for Dan Goldstein and Siddharth Suri of Microsoft Research New York City. They want to know exactly what people mean when complaining about ad annoyances—and what cost web publishers incur when displaying such ads.
Like many people his age, Andrés Monroy-Hernández of Microsoft Research’s FUSE Labs is enamored with the possibilities offered by social computing. He just applies them at a more engaged level than most. Consider some of the areas his research addresses: the lack of effective information during crises, the need to develop digital-media literacy among children, and the need to provide more access to health care in the developing world.
He doesn’t just dabble in such interests, either. He created the Scratch Online Community, an environment in which children can program interactive stories, games, and animations—and share them with others online. He is a co-founder of Sana, a mobile health-care system for the developing world. And he is among the leading scholars watching how social media functions during the ongoing drug war in his native Mexico.It comes as little surprise, then, that Monroy-Hernández has been named one of 10 recipients of the second annual TR35 México awards, presented by MIT Technology Review. The awards recognize the work of your people under the age of 35 in research, technology, and innovation.
Let’s say you’re traveling abroad this summer, planning a trip to Germany perhaps. You’ve got a lot on your itinerary: visits to Munich and Berlin, a cruise down the Rhine, a few tastings of Mosel grapes. It’s all extremely exciting. There’s just one problem.You don’t speak German.That’s OK. Foreign travelers have been braving the translation gap for centuries. But it’s just OK. Negotiating an environment featuring an unfamiliar language is difficult, and for many, a language-related faux pas seems inevitable.Fear no more. Now, with the Bing Translator app for Windows, which became available June 6 in all markets that offer Windows 8, you can translate anywhere within the operating system and start deciphering all those street signs and restaurant menus you’ve been dreading.