The Official Microsoft Blog

News & Perspectives

October, 2010

  • Windows Azure and Info-Plosion: Technical computing in the cloud for scientific breakthroughs

    Today Microsoft and Japan’s National Institute of Informatics (NII) announced  a joint program that will give university researchers free access to Windows Azure cloud computing resources for the “Info-Plosion Project.”  This project is aimed at developing new and better ways to retrieve information and follows a similar agreement with the National Science Foundation to provide researchers with Windows Azure resources for scientific technical computing.

    These cloud research engagement projects are helping usher in a new era of technical computing. Technical computing, a.k.a. high performance computing, is all about using many computers simultaneously to do complex calculations on massive amounts of data.  Extracting valuable insights from these oceans of data allows scientists to build sophisticated simulations and models of the world around us in an effort to answer large and complex questions.  Scientific research of all types, along with industries such as manufacturing, finance and digital content creation, is naturally a hotbed for technical computing.  But researchers still need better, simpler ways to take advantage of the technology.

    As I’ve described in previous posts, Microsoft’s technical computing initiative is focused on empowering a broader group of people to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges. Our aim is mainstream technical computing with tools, platforms and services that take advantage of computing power across the desktop, servers and the cloud.

    Bringing technical computing to the cloud is truly a cornerstone of our initiative.  As Dan Reed, corporate vice president of Technology Strategy and Policy, says “Cloud computing can transform how research is conducted, accelerating scientific exploration, discovery and results.”  By providing academics, as well as those in business and government, with access to virtually unlimited computing horsepower we can empower scientific breakthroughs that impact all walks of life.  And complementing this effort is investment in simpler, more efficient solutions to build technical computing applications.

  • The Power and Future of LightSpace — It’s Just Natural

    Hello … I’m Steve Clayton and this is the first in a series of posts you’ll see from me spotlighting the trends, ideas, products and people behind the technology as well as our vision for the future of technology at Microsoft. I’m passionate about uncovering the invention, creativity and interesting projects happening around Microsoft, so expect to see me back here soon.

    Later this week at a symposium on User Interface Software and Technology, Andy Wilson from Microsoft Research will present a new research paper on LightSpace that could revolutionize the way we handle virtual documents and objects. In his presentation, he will show how entire rooms can become computers and physical surfaces can evolve into interactive displays. With LightSpace, you can manipulate virtual objects, moving them from one surface to another simply by touching two surfaces. You can even “pick up” a virtual object, walk to the other side of the room, and then place it on another screen or surface. As often happens with technology like this, it’s much easier to see it than imagine it, so check out the video below.

  • An Oscar-winner in our midst

    As the national dialogue about education reform continues to heat up, Microsoft brought the conversation home by hosting a private screening of the film “Waiting for Superman” with Oscar-winning director Davis Guggenheim.

    Mr. Guggenheim received a standing ovation from more than 100 Microsoft employees who got a sneak preview of the movie on September 29th, before it opened in theaters across the country on October 1.

    Hear why Davis Guggenheim was inspired to bring his film to Microsoft and learn more about our commitment to education in this short video.

    At Microsoft, we believe every child has a basic right to an excellent education and it’s crucial that students graduate with the right skills to be able to compete in a global marketplace.  Though the challenges of education are big, we are committed to helping teachers and improving education in the United States and around the world.

  • More Like Us

    Earlier this week you may have seen my post highlighting LightSpace, a project from Microsoft Research that we believe has the potential to advance the idea of Natural User Interfaces (NUI). This week, Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer at Microsoft, gave a glimpse of more NUI technologies during speeches to students at Duke University and MIT.

    Craig’s demo was a large stereoscopic 3D display that showed some of the possibilities of human-scale computer interaction. In it, he showed what it might be like to interact with your computer when it is bigger than you — like the size of a room. Sadly, unless we send each of you a set of 3D glasses it’s hard to recreate the experience, so you’ll have to trust me on this one when I say it was pretty incredible. Craig was able to walk into a 3D world where he could shop and play games, interacting with people in both the physical and virtual environment in a very natural way. I hope to be showing you more of the short clip from “The Spy from the 2080s” video he used so stay tuned on that one.

  • Windows Phone 7 Recap

    Earlier today Microsoft announced the details for availability of Windows Phone 7 . The announcement was made at an event in New York by Steve Ballmer that then segued into global announcements in Europe and Asia/Pacific since the launch itself was relatively...
  • In Pursuit of Cyber Crime

    Today, at the RSA Conference Europe 2010 in London, I shared evidence from the latest Microsoft Security Intelligence Report (SIRv9) that provides intelligence on the extent to which botnets have become a pivotal method for committing crime online. 

    Botnets are the launch pad for much of today’s criminal activity on the Internet. In many ways, they are the perfect base of operations for computer criminals. Botnets are a valuable asset for their owners – bot herders – who make money by hiring them out to other cyber criminals to use as a route to market for cybercrime attacks such as phishing attacks, spam attacks, identity theft, click fraud and the distribution of scam emails. Bot herders guard their botnets jealously and invest huge amounts of time, effort and money in them. They spread their bots by a central command to masses of computer users through malicious software and user deception. By keeping a low profile, bots are able to infiltrate computers and devices and can quietly operate in the background, often undetected for years. Depending on the nature of the bot, an attacker may have as much or more control over their victim’s computer than the user.  

  • EDUCAUSE 2010: The Next Generation Begins

    Today, Microsoft education leaders and I are at EDUCAUSE 2010 in Anaheim, CA. While incredible theme parks are just a stone’s throw away, higher education CIOs and the IT Industry are in Anaheim to sharpen their vision and improve the business of learning.  There are big issues facing higher education that will shape the next 10 years and beyond.   From my viewpoint, the major themes for the modern CIO are harnessing the economy of “trustworthy” cloud computing; making consumerization of IT an institutional advantage; and creating compelling, learning experiences for students and faculty that build affinity for their institution.
    Demystifying the cloud remains top-of-mind for university CIOs.  They are discovering that not all cloud services are created equally.  Microsoft is unique in its holistic approach to cloud computing <<add uber Microsoft cloud computing link>>that brings the advantages of traditional on-premise services to the scale and elasticity of the Internet.  While technical merits are certainly notable for short-term decision-making, history teaches us that it is leadership and core competencies that make for a long-term, sustainable transformation. Cloud computing is not just about lowering cost, it provides a unique opportunity to reimagine learning delivery and consumption.

  • Welcome to Convergence 2010 Europe

    Hello from London!

    Today marks the opening of Convergence 2010 Europe, Microsoft Business Solutions group’s annual European conference where customers experience first-hand the innovations the Microsoft Dynamics CRM and ERP teams are delivering. This event also gives us an opportunity to directly engage with our customers and learn how we can help them be most productive and successful in their businesses.
    Following London (Oct 14-15), we’ll host events in Prague (Oct 18-19) and The Hague (Oct 20-21), and are looking forward to speaking with the more than 2,500 expected attendees.

    Kirill Tatarinov kicked off the event today with a keynote in which he announced several updates and new features to Microsoft Dynamics products that will help customers create a “Dynamic Business.” Dynamic businesses are organizations that thrive on change; those that are quick to recognize and seize new opportunities to maintain a competitive edge, in a relentlessly shifting business world.

  • Talk to Me

    My last two posts on LightSpace and More Like Us talked about the future direction for natural user interfaces (NUI), but there are plenty of examples of NUI products in the marketplace today, like Windows Phone 7, which launched this week. NUI is way more than just touch and gestures — context, location, speech and other technologies are all important elements that allow you to interact with your technology naturally depending on where you are, what device you’re using and what you’re trying to do. With Windows Phone 7, touch is cool, but we knew speech recognition would be key to furthering a more natural interface — not least for safety but also convenience. And at the end of the day, when you’re using a phone, speaking into the device is just natural.

    With Windows Phone 7, people can use their voice for dialing, search and launching applications. You literally hold the start button and say what you want, whether it’s to find a business, to call a friend or to open an application like your calendar. You can say “Boxwood Café in London” and get a map, directions and the phone listing without all the clicks or typing.

    I am currently using a pre-release version of Windows Phone 7 and had cause to use this feature recently when I thought I was going to be late to collect my parents from the airport here in Seattle. As I rushed to the car, I held the button and said “BA oh four nine” and Bing opened up with a real-time flight status of British Airways flight 049 from London to Seattle. I made it to the airport in good time. Less typing, more finding.

  • Opening Wikipedia to More Languages

    Technology can be a great tool to help people share information. Today, we’re seeing that with the release of the beta version of WikiBhasha, a multilingual content-creation tool designed for Wikipedia users.

    With WikiBhasha, Wikipedia’s global community of users can find content on Wikipedia, translate the content into other languages, and then either compose new articles or enhance existing articles in multilingual Wikipedias.

    The WikiBhasha beta is available as an open-source MediaWiki extension and as a user gadget in Wikipedia. It also can be obtained as an installable bookmarklet at, which is hosted on Microsoft’s Windows Azure platform.

  • New community for Business Intelligence and Analytics: BizIntelligence.TV

    The issue that most organizations have with data today is not that they have too little but rather that they have too much. The average organization sits of terabytes of information that it could turn into an incredible competitive advantage, if only...
  • Who’s Next in Tech

    How the Imagine Cup and the White House Science Fair are inspiring students to explore science, technology, engineering and math disciplines.

    Earlier this week, two Imagine Cup finalists had the opportunity to participate in the first annual White House Science Fair. This isn’t your dad’s science fair though — no baking soda and vinegar volcanoes or solar system models were on site. The White House Science Fair brought together the brightest high-school student minds in the country to showcase fresh thinking across science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Not only is this just a cool concept, it’s an important one.

  • Office 365 from Coast to Coast

    Microsoft is helping organizations of all sizes realize greater cost savings, IT efficiencies, and increased flexibility with web-based productivity solutions. As adoption of cloud computing accelerates, we’re offering customers from coast to coast...
  • Shout from Cape Town: Microsoft Announces Global Technology Program for Teachers and Students to Address Environmental Issues

    This week I’m in Cape Town, South Africa and lucky enough to be surrounded by some of the most innovative education leaders, teachers and administrators in the world. We’re all gathered here for the sixth annual Worldwide Innovation Education Forum (IEF), the first time for the event ever to be held on African soil.

    Attendees of this event include more than 500 educators, school leaders and government officials representing over 60 countries that continue to creatively and effectively use technology in their curriculum to help improve the way students learn. This is the worldwide finale of a year’s worth of country and regional events, during which 200,000 participants were whittled down to 125 teacher finalists presenting at IEF this week.

  • Microsoft Professional Developers Conference (PDC): All About the Cloud.

    Today, Microsoft kicks off its Professional Developers Conference (PDC) for 2010 and we are showcasing a really wide variety of Microsoft developer technologies and tools that cover a vast range of capabilities. This year, the focus is on the cloud. But...
  • Twitter Transition: New @MSFTNews handle

    Thanks for taking a moment to check out two big developments regarding the @microsoft Twitter handle. For the past year or so, we’ve been tweeting about all kinds of Microsoft news on @microsoft . If you are one of our followers, thank you. ...