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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.
In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on creating a data culture, an Internet of Things service built on Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Research’s Silicon Valley TechFair.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, along with Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner and Data Platform Group Corporate Vice President Quentin Clark, spoke Tuesday about creating a world in which devices and services anticipate and understand our needs. Building out a comprehensive platform that enables ambient intelligence is an initiative that Microsoft is uniquely qualified to undertake. The platform will include services such as: SQL Server, BI, Machine Learning, Bing and Microsoft Azure, Nadella explains. Creating a “data culture” is about deploying technology and changing the culture within organizations, empowering people to do great things.
“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.
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.
The following post is from Satya Nadella, Chief Executive Officer at Microsoft.
In a mobile first, cloud first world, one of the most fascinating truths is that data is not only consumed but also generated at accelerating rates and exponentially increasing quantities.
As computing becomes ubiquitous, engineers and developers are creating new form factors and cloud services that fit into all the nooks and crannies of everyday life. Car dashboards, light switches, HVAC systems, sneakers, etc. Nearly all interactions and experiences between humans, humans and computers and between computers get digitized. 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. This fuel will power improved experiences, understanding and interactions. When these devices around us gain the capacity to listen to us, respond to us, understand us and act on our behalf, we enter into an entirely new era. The era of ambient intelligence.
Editor’s note: The following is a post from Emily Alhadeff, a writer for microsoft.com/stories.
Remember “Weird Science,” the 1985 John Hughes comedy about two teen dweebs who use their computer, some wires and a Barbie doll to engineer their dream woman? After sparks and explosions, the dust settles and a partially clad Kelly LeBrock appears in the doorway, ready to transform the once-bullied “zeroes” into heroes.
This zany movie parodied early computing systems, but parts of it ring prophetic. Not only do online social networks allow users to create identities and manipulate social situations, but studying the technology provides insightful data about the evolution of human interaction.
“Human nature is pretty much always in beta.”
Teens’ online behavior is one of Microsoft Principal Researcher danah boyd’s main areas of research. She explores the topic in her new book “It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens” (Yale University Press).
“The teenagers who are growing up with technology today aren’t like my peer group,” says boyd, 36. “We were total geeks, freaks and outcasts. We weren’t part of the mainstream at all. And this is part of the mainstream now.”
The days are getting longer and the bees are waking from their long winter slumber here in Seattle. In celebration, we’re pollinating your weekend reading with news buzzing from around the globe.
The Chinese Ministry of Commerce on Tuesday announced approval of Microsoft’s purchase of Nokia’s Devices and Services business, subject to certain conditions. In reaching this decision, the Ministry of Commerce concluded that Microsoft holds approximately 200 patent families necessary to build an Android smartphone. This brings the number of markets that have cleared Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia Devices and Services to 16.
The beginning of an era, the end of another: Support for Windows XP ended Tuesday. The upshot? No more security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options, or online technical content updates for Windows XP from Microsoft. Windows XP faithful are encouraged to transition to newer operating systems like Windows 8.1.
The City and County of San Francisco is upgrading its cloud email to Office 365 for 29,000 employees to improve how key public safety services – law enforcement, fire and rescue, and health – are delivered to citizens, and to reduce IT management costs, writes Michael Donlan, Microsoft Vice President, U.S. State and Local Government.
Marc Touitou, chief information officer of San Francisco, said city officials believe San Francisco will be “the first city and county of its size to complete a Microsoft Office 365 for Government cloud transition in which each of the departments — including police and safety, as well as health — will be on one integrated platform.”
What do you get when you combine life-size robots, giant rubber balls, alliances vying for victory and a bunch of rowdy teenagers? Mayhem, of course.
You also get a FIRST Robotics competition that took place recently at Glacier Peak High School in Snohomish, Wash. “On the Whiteboard” Editor Pamela Woon was there to catch all of the robot ruckus, shown in the above video.
Queensland, the second-largest state in Australia, will partner with Microsoft to bring Office 365 to 149,000 government employees as a major step in the state’s Information and Communications Technologies strategy to transform digital services, take a positive step toward the standardization and simplification of ICT across government and enable new forms of knowledge sharing, collaboration and interconnectivity.
With a population of 4.7 million, about half of Queensland’s residents live in the capital city of Brisbane, with the rest living in other areas of the sprawling state, which is larger than Alaska, and is home to the Great Barrier Reef. Tourism is a major economic driver in Queensland, as is the export of coal, natural gas and iron ore.
The following post is from Brad Smith, General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Legal and Corporate Affairs at Microsoft.
This is an important week for the protection of our customers’ privacy. The European Union’s data protection authorities have found that Microsoft’s enterprise cloud contracts meet the high standards of EU privacy law. This ensures that our customers can use Microsoft services to move data freely through our cloud from Europe to the rest of the world. Building on this approval, we will now take proactive steps to expand these legal protections to benefit all of our enterprise customers.
The EU’s 28 data protection authorities acted through their “Article 29 Working Party” to provide this approval via a joint letter. Importantly, Microsoft is the first – and so far the only – company to receive this approval. This recognition applies to Microsoft’s enterprise cloud services – in particular, Microsoft Azure, Office 365, Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Windows Intune.
By acknowledging that Microsoft’s contractual commitments meet the requirements of the EU’s “model clauses,” Europe’s privacy regulators have said, in effect, that personal data stored in Microsoft’s enterprise cloud is subject to Europe’s rigorous privacy standards no matter where that data is located. This is especially significant given that Europe’s Data Protection Directive sets such a high bar for privacy protection.
The following post is from David Howard, Corporate Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Litigation & Antitrust, Microsoft.
The Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) on Tuesday announced that it has approved our purchase of Nokia’s Devices and Services business subject to certain conditions. MOFCOM’s decision effectively adopts Microsoft’s current patent licensing practices. In reaching its decision, MOFCOM concluded after its investigation that Microsoft holds approximately 200 patent families that are necessary to build an Android smartphone.
MOFCOM’s approval is based on a set of commitments which we’ve discussed with MOFCOM during the past few months (the English version of the commitments is here).
The following post is from Susan Hauser, Corporate Vice President, Enterprise and Partner Group, Microsoft.
On Monday at the 2014 NAB Show exhibition, Microsoft is showing the latest technology innovations for the broadcast media industry. We are also sharing how customers and partners like FansChoice.tv and Ooyala are reaching thousands of viewers with Microsoft technology. Monday’s announcements are part of our ongoing commitment to enable a wide variety of broadcasters to reach more customers using technologies that are secure, easy to use and cost-effective. You will also see us announce the new Microsoft Azure Media Services capabilities and Skype’s new integrated solution for broadcasters “Skype TX”.
This edition of Weekend Reading is all about the Build developer conference in San Francisco where Microsoft unveiled new opportunities for developers, the new Microsoft Azure Preview Portal, Windows Phone 8.1 with Cortana on the way, and updates to Windows 8.1.
Cortana, your personal virtual assistant in Windows Phone 8.1, was introduced at Build. Cortana is powered by Bing and inspired by the “Halo” character of the same name. She’ll join Windows Phone 8.1 soon in the U.S. in beta, then will launch in the U.S., the U.K. and China in the second half of 2014, with other countries to follow in 2015. Cortana will get better over time by asking questions based on your behavior and checking in with you before she assumes you’re interested in something. All the info Cortana curates for you is stored in Cortana’s Notebook. This information enables Cortana to be proactive and helpful to you throughout the day, just like a real assistant.
The following post is from Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President, Cloud and Enterprise Group, Microsoft.
On Thursday at Build in San Francisco, we took an important step by unveiling a first-of-its kind cloud environment within Microsoft Azure that provides a fully integrated cloud experience – bringing together cross-platform technologies, services and tools that enable developers and businesses to innovate with enterprise-grade scalability at startup speed. Announced today, our new Microsoft Azure Preview Portal is an important step forward in delivering our promise of the cloud without complexity.
When cloud computing was born, it was hailed as the solution that developers and business had been waiting for – the promise of a quick and easy way to get more from your business-critical apps without the hassle and cost of infrastructure. But as the industry transitions toward mobile-first, cloud-first business models and scenarios, the promise of “quick and easy” is now at stake.
On Wednesday at the Build developer conference in San Francisco, Microsoft outlined new opportunities for developers and showed how businesses can benefit from new capabilities in the Windows 8.1 update and Windows Phone 8.1.
The company also showed how Cortana, a new digital assistant, is powered by Bing. Finally, updates to Internet Explorer 11 and a new and improved Skype for Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 were also unveiled.
Microsoft outlines new opportunities for developers
Microsoft announced updates that put developers first with a focus on interoperability across devices and the cloud, while granting access to Cortana.
Microsoft will embrace more kinds of code and share more of its work with the developer community, while removing roadblocks, according to Kevin Gallo, Windows Phone director of program management. As part of this effort, Visual Studio Update 2 RC includes Universal Projects, which allows developers to create apps that tailor easily to experiences across multiple screens.
On Wednesday, Microsoft took the wraps off of Windows Phone 8.1 and announced updates to Windows 8.1 at the Build developer conference in San Francisco.
The company also outlined new opportunities for developers. Finally, Nokia also announced three new Lumia smartphones that will run on Windows Phone 8.1.
Meet Cortana and check out the Windows Phone 8.1 update
Windows Phone Vice President Joe Belfiore kicked off the morning with an introduction of Windows Phone 8.1, and Cortana, the personal digital assistant for Windows Phone.
Cortana is powered by Bing, and gets better over time by asking questions based on your behavior and checking in with you before she assumes you’re interested in something, Belfiore said. “She detects and monitors the stuff you care about, looks out for you throughout the day, and helps filter out the noise so you can focus on what matters to you.”
Build 2014 takes place from April 2-4 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, with keynotes on the mornings of April 2 and April 3 from 8:30 a.m. PT – 11:30 a.m. PT.
You can watch the keynote livestreams over on Channel 9. For the latest Build 2014-related news and developments, visit the Microsoft News Center.
Resona Holdings, Inc., which oversees the operations of Resona Bank and other group subsidiaries in Japan, has migrated 30,000 client terminals used within the Resona Group from Windows XP to Windows 8 and Office 2013. It’s one of the largest such deployments ever made in Japan, according to Microsoft Japan.
The company finished the migration at the end of February, ahead of the April 8 end of support deadline for both Windows XP and Office 2003, which had been running on its group client terminals.
In this edition of Weekend Reading, we've got stories on the release of Office for iPad (as well as the Enterprise Mobility Suite and other mobile-first, cloud-first products), and Microsoft Azure being made available in China.
Office arrives on the iPad. In San Francisco Thursday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made several announcements, including the release of Word, Excel and PowerPoint on the iPad. Built from the ground up for touch, it’s still unmistakably Office. You can read Word documents, use Excel data and present with PowerPoint for free. With an Office 365 subscription, you can edit and create new documents.
The following post is from Satya Nadella, Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft.
In my initial remarks as CEO, I spoke about how Microsoft is embracing the new “mobile-first cloud-first” world. I’ve gotten great feedback around this declaration from customers, employees and partners who are excited to see us communicate this commitment so emphatically. I’ve also been asked a number of interesting questions about the language I used. A common one is actually the simplest and most important to answer: How can twothings be first?
My honest answer is that I don’t think of the cloud and mobile as two things. They are two facets of one thing. The cloud was created to enable mobility. And mobile devices are really uninteresting without the cloud.
Leave it to the cloud to make even movie viewing a better experience. That’s what Microsoft Azure did for blinkbox and the streaming service’s million monthly users.
The United Kingdom-based company, owned by Tesco, the country’s biggest retailer, needed a way to ensure the on-demand content looked great on every device for its customers.
Blinkbox employed Microsoft Azure to encode and catalog its vast library, streamlining the process so that what once took weeks now takes just days, or even hours.
The following post is from Takeshi Numoto, Corporate Vice President, Cloud & Enterprise Marketing, Microsoft.
In May of last year, we announced that Microsoft Azure would be coming to China, launching a public preview to support the growing appetite for cloud services in this important region. Today, I am pleased to share that Microsoft Azure, operated by 21Vianet, is now generally available for our customers in China. This significant milestone makes us the first global company to make onshore public cloud services available to customers in China, through 21Vianet.
IDC reports a sustained growth rate of more than 40 percent in the public cloud service market in China since 2012, making the market a particular hot spot for cloud. Microsoft has more than 20 years of experience delivering our products and services to China. Now through our unique partnership with 21Vianet, we are delighted that customers throughout China will be able to experience world-class public cloud services powered by Microsoft Azure.
The following post is from Roy Levin, distinguished engineer and managing director, Microsoft Research Silicon Valley.
On Tuesday, we dusted off the source code for early versions of MS-DOS and Word for Windows. With the help of the Computer History Museum, we are making this code available to the public for the first time.
The museum has done an excellent job of curating some of the most significant historical software programs in computing history. As part of this ongoing project, the museum will make available two of the most widely used software programs of the 1980’s, MS DOS 1.1 and 2.0 and Microsoft Word for Windows 1.1a, to help future generations of technologists better understand the roots of personal computing.
The following is a post by Thomas Kohnstamm, a writer for microsoft.com/stories.
It only takes a few seconds in the presence of James Mickens to understand why he’s known as “The Galactic Viceroy of Research Excellence” rather than his official title of “Researcher.” To talk to James is to step into a Technicolor world saturated with humor, absurdity and profound intelligence.