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The opening ceremonies of the Vancouver Games take place this evening. Even for those of us that live just down the road in Seattle and who often spend weekends in Whistler, the chances are most people won’t be there in person. Microsoft is working hard to help you stay connected to the Games and here is just a sample of the ways you can follow the action:
On the Web in High-Def: MSN has teamed up with NBC Universal to help create NBCOlympics.com on MSN, a great online experience for fans across the United States. Thanks to Microsoft’s Silverlight technology sports fans can follow the events in 720p high-definition, smooth -streaming video. More than 400 hours of live competition and more than 1000 hours of full-event replays will be available. Just like a DVR, viewers can rewind, fast-forward and even pause the action. In 2008 for Beijing, the NBC- Microsoft Silverlight partnership yielded not only a brand new way to cover a sporting event on the web, but also a record number of viewers: 52.1 million people logged on to watch 9.9 million hours of video.
What more do you need to know: Need event schedules? Want to know more about your favorite athlete? Need to understand the rules? MSN and Bing can help. NBCOlympics.com on MSN not only has rich Silverlight enabled video but will also feature medal trackers, HD photo galleries and an “Inside this Sport Section” so that you too can understand even the most obscure event. The site also has deep Bing integration. And Bing is certain to be every armchair athlete’s best friend. Just search “Winter Olympics” on Bing for important dates, links to the schedule, and breaking news - all brought to you conveniently in the form of an Instant Answer. Or enter the name of the athlete for quick access to bios, photos, news and latest videos. My personal favorite is Bing’s visual search feature so you can sort images of all the competitors by criteria such as gender, sport or event date.
And it isn’t just the athletes. Bing’s StreetSide maps (powered by Silverlight) bing Vancouver and Whistler to life – it’s almost like you are there in person.
Kristin Meldahl from the Bing team has more details of some of the great Bing features on the blog.
Microsoft Office Helps Cover the Games: Microsoft has also partnered with the US Olympics Committee and Slalom Consulting (a Microsoft Partner) to create a rich new media site built on Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 and Silverlight. The USOC PressBox aims to help journalists covering the US team’s performance at the Games through content that includes integrated Twitter feeds, rich video, image galleries, and results. Although the site was built primarily for journalists it is open to everyone.
The Microsoft Office team also sponsored a competition to find two bloggers who will cover the games, using Microsoft Office 2010. Amber Borowski Johnson from Calgary, Canada and Dylan Derryberry from Colorado were judged to be the winners by a panel that included Olympian Bonnie Blair. Amber and Dylan will be attending the Games for 10 days, and using the latest tools, including the soon to be released Office 2010 to blog about their experiences. You can follow their blogs from the Games at crazybloggincanuk and cmcmountaintimes
Frequent users will know that every day the Bing home page features a stunning picture of something, or somewhere around the world. It’s always fun to check out. And during the Winter Games, the pictures will all be Games related images.