Universities are under a lot of pressure these days. They need to cut costs, deliver great services to a demanding audience of faculty, students and staff, and provide the reliability and security of a major enterprise.

So we were happy to learn this week that the University of Arizona has selected our Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite to provide key productivity and collaboration tools for its campus in Tucson. They’ll be using the cloud-based service to synchronize e-mail and calendars between laptops, PCs, and smartphones; provide archive and backup services; and improve data security. We were up against Google on this one, so it’s a solid win.

Elsewhere this week:

  • One of the interesting technologies we’ve had in beta the past 18 months is Microsoft Tag, a super-enhanced barcode-type reader. Using Tag, a business can create detailed information about a new product that consumers collect by pointing a smartphone at a “tag.” Tags also will lead to new ways to buy a home, track inventory, or even fix a nasty golf slice. Tag now is available for general use, and we look forward to seeing what kinds of applications come of it.
  • Here's another sign of how well Windows 7 is doing – IT shops are fast moving to adopt it. The reliability, speed, and features of Windows 7 are gaining it a lot of fans.
  • With gas prices, global warming and the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, energy is on everyone’s mind these days. This week we produced two articles that detail Microsoft’s approach to helping everyone use and manage energy more wisely. One looked broadly at how Microsoft technology is enabling development of the so-called “smart grid”, which could help the U.S. more efficiently distribute electricity as power sources and power demands evolve. In another, we announced a new feature for Hohm, our home energy-evaluation tool. Called Hohm Scores, it allows homeowners to see if they’re an energy hog or an energy miser. It estimates a home’s energy efficiency based on public record data such as a home’s size and location and uses variables typical of energy use and costs across the country.  It's a pretty cool feature and can be customized with your own personal information such as billing data from energy providers and encrypted so that only you can review it.
  • You've probably received a piece of “scareware” – those emails in which you are told your PC is at risk unless you buy some product to “protect” it. But the stuff you might download doesn’t solve a thing – it’s malware. This week the FBI announced indictments against three participants in an alleged scareware scheme. Between them, the three are believed to have cost their victims as much as $100 million. We’re pleased to have supported the FBI's efforts.
  • Our biggest news of the week was the leadership change in our Entertainment & Devices division, with Robbie Bach retiring after 22 amazing years at Microsoft, and Andy Lees and Don Mattrick stepping up to report directly to our CEO Steve Ballmer. Robbie will leave an incredible legacy and we wish him all the best as he starts a new chapter in his life at the end of this year. Robbie is certainly going out on a high note, with the release of the exciting Project Natal for Xbox 360, Halo Reach, and Windows Phone 7 this fall.
  • Finally, if you didn't catch it earlier this week, you should definitely check out J Allard's transition email to his team at Microsoft. We're delighted that J is going to continue to be an advisor to Steve Ballmer and Microsoft's leadership team, even as he carves out more time to pursue his personal interests such as running the Athens Marathon and off-road truck racing. His email is both a great reminder of how far the industry has come in the past 17 years and a cool insight into what makes Microsoft tick.

Posted by Mark Murray
GENERAL MANAGER, CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS