The Official Microsoft Blog

News & Perspectives

May, 2011

  • Xbox: Now That’s Entertainment

    In the ongoing quest for a metaphor that illustrates slow versus rapid change, it’s hard to top the boiled frog. You know the one – drop a frog in hot water and out it leaps; place it in cold water and put it on the stove and the frog will sit there and cook. Atlantic writer and one-time Microsoft employee James Fallows has the most thorough debunking of the metaphor extant, but such is the power of the meme that it continues to show up, even in otherwise reputable publications.

    For me, the above perfectly illustrates how hard it can be to recognize a transformation, especially when the transformation takes time (also known as slowly turning up the heat). Case in point: Xbox and entertainment. For the last 10 years at Microsoft, we’ve been turning up the heat on how we think about Xbox, and next week at E3 you will get a chance to see how far we’ve come.

  • Microsoft Wins 2011 “Best Multinational Workplaces” Award in Europe

    The Great Place to Work® Institute today announced that Microsoft is the inaugural winner of the Best Multinational Workplaces 2011 in Europe award.

    This year, 1,380 companies participated in the study, representing more than 1.5 million employees, making it the largest study of its kind. More than 12,000 Microsoft employees participated in the survey across Europe.

    “Winning the top spot on our new European Best Multinational Workplaces list, on the back of several national awards, reflects Microsoft’s continued success in creating a working environment where people can thrive,” said José Tolovi Jr., Global CEO for the Great Place to Work Institute.

  • Weekend Reading: May 27th Edition–Windows Phone Marketplace on the Web plus “Mango”, Internet Explorer 9, MSN, Xbox and Imagine Cup

    It was a big week at Microsoft, what with the unveiling of the next version of the Windows Phone mobile platform, dubbed “Mango.” That wasn’t the only news from the company this week though. Read on to see what else happened at Microsoft this week.

    Windows Phone Marketplace on the Web. Earlier this week, Microsoft announced that it will launch a Web-based Windows Phone Marketplace with “Mango.” The Web version of Marketplace will launch with the new OS later this year and give customers another vehicle for discovering your great apps and games. And as a Windows Phone developer, you get all of the added visibility with no extra work. Just as on the phone, customers will be able to browse the full catalog, view screenshots, read application details and reviews and choose from all of the supported languages for that app. Want more details? Read this Wednesday post on the Windows Phone Developer Blog. Speaking of apps, check out this preview of a British Airways app that gives a three-dimensional view of an airplane cabin, courtesy of the Next at Microsoft Blog.

    Behind the scenes with Mango. On Wednesday, Microsoft’s Channel 9 published a series of fascinating behind-the-scenes interviews with some of the engineers who created the new “Mango” features we just announced.

  • The Midweek Download: May 25th Edition–Windows Phone releases beta of “Mango” developer tools plus Windows Live Messenger, Office 365 and IE9

    Yesterday, Microsoft made big news in New York City when it debuted the next version of the Windows Phone mobile platform, codenamed “Mango.” “Mango” will bring hundreds of new features to Windows Phone, including a new set of developer tools for creating applications that run on the platform. More on those new tools below.

    New beta “Mango” tools now available. The beta release of the Windows Phone Developer Tools that support Mango are now available for download. Developers can use this beta release to get ready for the upcoming Windows Phone OS release. The new application platform capabilities coming in Mango deliver the top features you have asked for. Some of those features include: background processing, Silverlight 4, Internet Explorer 9 Web browser control, fast application switching and live tile enhancements, just to name a few. For the whole story on the new developer tools, read this post on the Windows Phone Developer Blog.

    Windows Live Messenger and Windows Phone bring IM and texting together. In other Windows Phone news this week, Microsoft announced Monday that the next release of Windows Phone will come with a seamless, built-in texting and IM experience powered by Windows Live Messenger. Read this post on the Inside Windows Live Blog to see more of what the integrated Messenger experience will offer.

  • Study Finds Information Workers Prefer to Work Without Walls

    A new study by Microsoft shows that the ability to work from outside the office is no longer an employee perk; it is a business imperative. The study also finds that remote working offers real benefits to employers and employees alike.

    Called Work Without Walls, the study surveyed more than 4,000 information workers in the manufacturing, financial services, retail/hospitality and professional services industries. Among its findings:

  • The next version of Windows Phone has the sweet taste of “Mango”

    Today in New York City, Microsoft unveiled the next version of the Windows Phone mobile platform, codenamed “Mango.”

    “Seven months ago we started our mission to make smartphones smarter and easier for people to do more,” said Andy Lees, president of the Mobile Communications Business at Microsoft. “With ‘Mango,’ Windows Phone takes a major step forward in redefining how people communicate and use apps and the Internet, giving you better results with less effort.”

    Due out this fall, “Mango” will sport hundreds of new features designed to deliver a faster, richer, more personal experience for Windows Phone owners. In addition, “Mango” will enable Windows Phone to expand into new markets and extend global reach and scale through support for a host of new languages and new partnerships with Acer, Fujitsu Limited and ZTE Corp. The Windows Phone Marketplace, which currently has more than 17,000 apps, will also be available in 35 countries starting this fall.

  • Small Businesses – Are your Mobile Workers Compromising your Security?

    For many of today’s workers, using sites like Facebook and Twitter for personal communication has become second nature. Using these sites for work-related reasons is quickly becoming commonplace too, especially in remote working scenarios. According to a recent survey sponsored by Microsoft and conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, when working remotely, 42 percent of information workers at small and midsized businesses (SMBs) use public social networking tools (Facebook, Twitter) to collaborate with colleagues.

    It may not come as much of a surprise to you to hear that these public sites do not meet the same security and privacy protocols as in-house measures provide. Yet, less than one-third (29 percent) of SMB information workers report that their companies provide access to internal social networking tools.

  • Weekend Reading: May 20th Edition–Verizon Joins the Windows Phone Family and Facebook Teams up with Microsoft to Fight Child Exploitation

    Much of the big news out of Microsoft this week focused on our alliances with partners like Verizon Wireless, Facebook and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Read on for the details.

    The HTC Trophy comes to Windows Phone via Verizon. Verizon Wireless announced Thursday that the HTC Trophy, its first Windows Phone, will be available on its website starting May 26—and hit Verizon stores a week later on June 2. The phone will cost $149.99, after accounting for a $50 mail-in rebate with a new two-year contract. For many folks, that’s probably good enough reason to buy. But check this out: Verizon is sweetening the deal with a free Xbox 360 console game (up to $60 in value) for anyone who picks one up before July 15. Interested? Read more about the Trophy, pictured left, in this post on the Windows Phone Blog.

  • 500 million friends against child exploitation

    Today marks a significant milestone in the ongoing fight against the abuse of Internet technology for the heinous sexual victimization of the most innocent in our society. As you may have read in the New York Times, Facebook is joining Microsoft in the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s PhotoDNA program to combat child pornography. NCMEC’s program, using image-matching technology created by Microsoft Research in collaboration with Dartmouth College, gives online service providers an effective tool to take more proactive action to stop the distribution of known images of child sexual abuse online.

    Both Facebook and Ernie Allen, president and CEO of NCMEC, provided more information about the news and the growing problem of child exploitation online that inspired this effort on Facebook and the Microsoft on the Issues Blog, respectively. And we invite you to join the Facebook Live event at 3 p.m. ET on May 20th for a live discussion of this positive development in combating technology-facilitated crimes against children.

  • The Midweek Download: May 18th Edition–Microsoft Reveals a Glimpse of the New “Mango” Windows Phone Update at TechEd

    Windows Phone fans will be excited by the top item in this week’s edition of the Midweek Download. Earlier this week, Microsoft gave IT pros and developers a glimpse of some of the features included in the next major update for Windows Phone. Read on for that and a few bits and pieces of Microsoft news.

    The sweet taste of Mango. This week at the TechEd North America 2011 conference for developers and IT pros, the Windows Phone team is showing off some of the more notable features of the next major Windows Phone 7 update, dubbed Mango. Some of those features include pinnable e-mail folders, conversation view in e-mail, Server search and Lync, just to name a few. To find out what else the Mango update will bring, check out this Monday post on the Windows Phone Blog. Geekwire’s Todd Bishop also covered the Mango story.

    Speaking of TechEd…

  • SAP and Microsoft Make App Development and Cloud Management Easier

    Microsoft’s broad partner ecosystem is what powers increased value and solutions for customers and their evolving business needs.

    One example of this is today’s announcement of SAP and Microsoft’s plans to focus on two key areas: first, to help .NET Framework developers more easily build applications connecting to SAP, and second, to help customers harness the power of the cloud.

    As a result of this announcement, developers can expect much more support and integration between the development worlds of SAP and Microsoft.

  • Charting Your Course to the Cloud

    Today at TechEd North America, I had the opportunity to talk to thousands of IT professionals and developers about evolving trends in technology, the incredible changes in the device landscape and how Microsoft is helping them keep their skills fresh to manage through these changes.

    I shared examples of how customers like Travelocity are realizing the benefits of public cloud, how partners are delivering new private cloud solutions and how Microsoft technology can help customers manage the diverse range of PC’s and mobile devices in their environments today. Of course, cloud computing was a key part of the entire discussion. I talked about three benefits of cloud computing: agility, focus, and economics.

  • Weekend Reading: May 13th Edition – San Diego Schools to Move 140,000 PCs to Windows 7 and Xbox 360 Stays No. 1 in the Console Market

    It’s been a busy week here at Microsoft, from the announcement of an agreement to acquire Internet communications company Skype to the announcement of new Windows Azure software development toolkits for iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

    Here are a few of the other stories you might have missed this week:

    San Diego schools move 140,000 PCs to Windows 7. The San Diego Unified School District participates in a state-funded proposition called the 21st Century Classroom Initiative, or i21, which brings modern technology into the classroom. Even with i21, the school district was working within a very strict and limited budget and it needed a cost effective solution to in order to upgrade its computers. With Windows 7 and other Microsoft technologies, the school district was able to implement netbooks for students and tablet PCs for teachers across the district. After completing the first year of its rollout, the school district is excited about the benefits it’s already seeing with Windows 7. Without adding any additional IT resources, the existing IT staff was able to deploy 34,800 computers in the first year of their Windows 7 upgrade plan, and will eventually support 140,000 computers. Read this Wednesday post on the Windows for Your Business Blog for the rest of the story.

    Kinect keeps Xbox 360 in the No. 1 spot in April. Just in case you missed Thursday’s news, demand for games such as “Kinect Sports” and “Dance Central” helped propel the Xbox 360 into the number-one selling video game console in April.

  • “Kinect Sports” & “Dance Central” Help Keep Xbox 360 in the No. 1 Spot

    Consumers just can’t seem to get enough of the Kinect for Xbox 360.

    Demand for games such as “Kinect Sports” and “Dance Central” helped propel the Xbox 360 into the number-one selling video game console in April. Sales of “Kinect Sports” reached 3 million units worldwide and “Dance Central” sales reached 2.5 million units worldwide. Xbox 360 has also been the top-selling console in the United States for 10 out of the last 11 months and is the best-selling console in 2011.

    The Kinect has proven to be wildly popular, as one can see from the reaction of the youngster pictured above.

    Some April 2011 highlights from NPD Group, an independent market research firm, include:

    · Xbox 360 sold 305,000 units in April, maintaining the number one console spot in the U.S.

  • The Midweek Download: May 11th Edition – Microsoft acquires Skype and announces new Azure toolkits for iOS, Android and Windows Phone

    Two significant pieces of news out of Microsoft this week and it’s only Wednesday! On Monday, the company announced Windows Azure software development toolkits for iOS, Android and Windows Phone. Just 24 hours later, it was announced that Microsoft intends to acquire Internet communications company Skype Global for $8.5 billion. To find out what else is going on at Microsoft this week, read the rest of this week’s edition of the Midweek Download.

    Microsoft acquires Skype. On Tuesday, Microsoft and Skype announced that the two companies have entered into an agreement under which Microsoft will acquire Skype for $8.5 billion in cash from an investor group led by Silver Lake. The agreement has been approved by the boards of directors of both Microsoft and Skype.

  • Microsoft Announces Windows Azure Toolkits for iOS, Android and Windows Phone

    Today, Microsoft announced Windows Azure Toolkits for Devices, consisting of assets for Windows Phone, iOS and a preview of tools for Android.

    Using the toolkits, developers can use the cloud to accelerate the creation of applications on the major mobile platforms. Companies, including Groupon, are taking advantage to create a unified approach to cloud-to-mobile user experience.

    The average consumer uses many different devices. The PC, the phone and an array of smart Web-connected devices have created diverse computing scenarios for millions of users. For developers, this is an unparalleled opportunity - Forrester predicts that by 2015, the mobile apps services market will exceed $7 billion.

  • Weekend Reading: May 6th Edition – Bank of America app hits the Windows Phone Marketplace and Bing lands some prime real estate with BlackBerry

    This edition of Weekend Reading has something for just about everyone – Kinect, Windows Phone, Bing, Xbox, MSN – the works.

    Here is all the latest news from this week at Microsoft:

    Now in Windows Phone Marketplace: Bank of America. Just a quick heads up to Bank of America customers: the company’s much-anticipated new mobile banking app arrived in Marketplace on Tuesday. Check balances, transfer money, pay bills, and locate ATMs—directly from your Windows Phone (U.S. only).

    Bing and BlackBerry…so happy together. At Research In Motion’s annual Blackberry World on Tuesday, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced on stage a new alliance between Microsoft and RIM, outlining how the two companies can work together to help people make better decisions with Bing on BlackBerry devices.

  • The Midweek Download: May 4th Edition – How businesses get more bang for their buck with Microsoft Dynamics and Microsoft lands another Azure customer

    It’s only Wednesday, but Microsoft made two big announcements this week. First, the company’s Windows Azure cloud computing platform nabbed another customer win. Then, Microsoft released a study from Forrester Consulting that shows how businesses can get a significant return on investment using Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011.

    Microsoft Dynamics produces major ROI. On Tuesday, Microsoft released the results of a Microsoft-commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting, “The Total Economic Impact of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011,” May 2011. The Total Economic ImpactTM, a standard methodology developed by Forrester Research Inc., captures and quantifies the voice of the customer relative to technology investments. This study concludes that a 2,000-employee composite organization with an initial deployment of 50 users would experience a three-year, risk-adjusted ROI of 243 percent over a payback period of 4.1 months. Forrester Consulting credits the familiar, intelligent and connected experiences delivered by Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 as fundamental to the ROI and rapid payback period.

  • It’s Teacher Appreciation Month – THANK YOU, teachers!

    Today marks the start of Teacher Appreciation Month in the U.S. and here at Microsoft, we’re pausing to celebrate the great work of teachers around the world.

    Somewhere today, a person is teaching a future leader to read. Another person is putting a stethoscope in the hands of a future chief surgeon and teaching them how to hear a heartbeat. Often, these first lessons begin at the hands of teachers, with students who otherwise may never have realized their gifts.