The Official Microsoft Blog

News & Perspectives

July, 2011

  • Weekend Reading: July 29th Edition–Microsoft Announces Avatar Kinect, plus Xbox Live, Bing, OneNote and Windows Phone

    In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got Xbox Live, two new Kinect experiences, Windows Phone and others. Read on…

    Make the most of summer. From free Bing and Windows Live tools to “Angry Birds” for Windows Phone, Microsoft helps you make the most of all your summer activities. Check out this slideshow on the Microsoft News Center for lots of ideas to help you make this summer one to remember.

    Xbox Releases Avatar Kinect, Kinect Sparkler Interactive Experiences. Kinect Fun Labs, a hub for innovative gadgets that showcase advancements in the controller-free device’s technology, launches two new experiences this week: Avatar Kinect, and Kinect Sparkler. Avatar Kinect lets you – or rather your personalized avatar – interact with or hang out with up to seven other friends in 24 virtual stages ranging from a late-night talk show set to outer space to a sports tailgate party. Kinect Sparkler lets players use their fingers to draw sparkling lines that whirl glowing, gold stars in front of, behind, and around 3-D photographs of themselves. For more details, read this feature story on the Microsoft News Center.

  • The Midweek Download: July 27th Edition–Windows Phone “Mango” is Released to Manufacturers, Microsoft & SUSE Renew Interop Agreement, plus Hotmail, Messenger and SkyDrive

    The big news so far this week is the release to manufacturers of Windows Phone “Mango.” Also this week, Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith testified before Congress on the importance of education and immigration reform.

    Windows Phone “Mango” released to manufacturers. On Monday, Microsoft announced that the next version of the Windows Phone mobile platform, dubbed “Mango,” has been released to manufacturers. This marks the point in the development process where we hand code to our handset and mobile operator partners to optimize Mango for their specific phone and network configurations. Here on the Windows Phone team, we now turn to preparing for the update process. The Mango update for current Windows Phone handsets will be ready this fall, and of course will come pre-installed on new Windows Phones. For the rest of this story, read this Monday post on the Windows Phone Blog. Next at Microsoft Blog Editor Steve Clayton also blogged about Mango on Monday while the Windows Phone Developer Blog covered application compatibility in this July 22nd post.

    People Week, Version 2.0. Last week, Next at Microsoft Blog Editor Steve Clayton profiled people at Microsoft, with a special focus on designers. Don’t miss this profile of Andrew Phillips, head of biological computation at the Microsoft Research lab in Cambridge, England.

  • Microsoft’s U.S. Innovative Education Forum Set to Kick Off

    School may be out for summer, but for many highly-motivated teachers and school leaders, there is no break. Educators are hard at work scouring the Web and connecting with their peers, looking for new teaching ideas to inspire their kids next year and taking professional development classes to hone their skills.

    On Thursday, 100 educators from 25 states will attend the first day of the U.S. Innovative Education Forum (IEF), Microsoft’s premier educator recognition event, now in its seventh year. These educators are being celebrated for their innovative use of technology in their curriculum. Their creative approaches are having a transformational impact at their schools and students are benefiting by learning new skills that will help them prepare for their future in the workforce or after college.

  • Weekend Reading: July 22nd Edition–Microsoft Reports Record Fourth-Quarter Revenue, Battles the Rustock Spambot and Releases a New “Star Wars” Xbox & Kinect Bundle

    This week, Microsoft announced record fourth-quarter revenue, battled the Rustock spambot, released a super-cool Star Wars Xbox and Kinect bundle and made an announcement about HealthVault. For those stories and more, check out this edition of Weekend Reading.

    Microsoft Reports Record Fourth-Quarter and Full-Year Results. On Thursday, Microsoft announced record fourth-quarter revenue of $17.37 billion for the quarter ended June 30, 2011, an 8 percent increase from the same period of the prior year. Operating income, net income, and diluted earnings per share for the quarter were $6.17 billion, $5.87 billion, and $0.69 per share, which represented increases of 4 percent, 30 percent, and 35 percent, respectively, when compared with the prior year period. Read this press release on the Microsoft News Center for the full results.

    Microsoft Offers Reward for Information on Rustock. After publishing notices in two Russian newspapers last month to notify the Rustock spambot operators of the civil lawsuit, Microsoft decided to augment our civil discovery efforts to identify those responsible for controlling the notorious Rustock botnet by issuing a monetary reward in the amount of $250,000 for new information that results in the identification, arrest and criminal conviction of such individual(s).

  • The Midweek Download: July 20th Edition–Microsoft Announces the Windows Azure Toolkit for Social Games and Windows Phone Devs Get New App Hub Features

    It’s a busy week on the developer news front at Microsoft – check out stories below about the new Windows Azure Toolkit for social games, another significant milestone for Windows Phone developers, a Microsoft Research project code-named “Daytona” and another series of in-depth profiles on the Next at Microsoft Blog focused on Microsoft designers.

    Build Your Next Game with the Windows Azure Toolkit for Social Games. Today at Seattle Casual Connect, we announced the Windows Azure Toolkit for Social Games. This toolkit includes accelerators, common libraries, and deployment tools to help developers quickly get started building social games. Additionally, the toolkit provides samples and guidance for other scenarios, such as using Facebook credits to monetize a game. Read today’s post on the Windows Azure Blog for the whole story.

    Windows Phone Developers Get New App Hub Features. This week marks another significant developer milestone on the path to the release of Mango and also gives Microsoft a chance to talk about where we’re headed. Today, we are officially announcing the rollout of the new App Hub developer portal with key new functionality, multiple enhancements and support for several new markets.

  • HealthVault - We’re Still Driving Forward

    Following the Google Health announcement, a number of people have questioned whether Microsoft will continue to develop HealthVault without another vendor like Google to ‘compete’ against. The reality is that we’ve always viewed the status quo as our biggest competitor and Google as an ally in the movement to transform health care around the world – so we’re sorry to lose their voice in the discussion.

    Since Google’s announcement, the two companies have worked together to create ways for Google Health users to transfer their data into Microsoft HealthVault. Today, we announced an option that leverages the Direct Project protocol for encrypted messaging to enable the data transfer with just a few clicks.

    And what about HealthVault? Will Microsoft continue to invest? HealthVault is not peripheral to Microsoft’s health IT business – it’s core to our strategy and to what we believe is required to truly make a difference in health and health care.

  • Microsoft Offers Reward for Information on Rustock

    Last month, I shared with you that the Rustock botnet has remained inactive since Microsoft and its partners took it offline on March 16th.

    Today, we take our pursuit a step further. After publishing notices in two Russian newspapers last month to notify the Rustock operators of the civil lawsuit, we decided to augment our civil discovery efforts to identify those responsible for controlling the notorious Rustock botnet by issuing a monetary reward in the amount of $250,000 for new information that results in the identification, arrest and criminal conviction of such individual(s).

    This reward offer stems from Microsoft’s recognition that the Rustock botnet is responsible for a number of criminal activities and serves to underscore our commitment to tracking down those behind it.

  • Weekend Reading: July 15th Edition–Imagine Cup Winners Revealed, Xbox 360 Stays No. 1 plus WPC, SkyDrive, Bing and Windows Phone

    This week, Microsoft announced the winners of the 2011 Imagine Cup and held the Worldwide Partner Conference, a four-day event in Los Angeles for the company’s more than 640,000 global partners. On Thursday, it was also announced that the Xbox 360 maintained its position as the number one console in the U.S. for the sixth consecutive month.

    Imagine Cup 2011 winners revealed. On Wednesday, Microsoft announced the winners of the ninth annual Microsoft Imagine Cup, the world’s premier student technology competition, honoring student innovations that address global problems such as improving road and fire safety, eradicating poverty, and creating a more sustainable environment. The company also unveiled plans to launch a three-year, $3 million competitive grant program to help recipients realize their vision of solving the world’s toughest problems. For the rest of this story, read this press release.

    The Worldwide Partner Conference. As many know, Microsoft this week held a four-day event in Los Angeles for its more than 640,000 global partners.

  • Xbox 360 No. 1 Console for the Sixth Month in a Row

    Halfway through 2011, Xbox 360 maintained its lead in the U.S. console market, selling more units in the U.S. than any other console for 12 of the past 13 months.

    Even while console and software sales across the industry have slowed, Xbox 360 continues to grow and remains on track to have the biggest year in Xbox history. The console is in the sixth year of its lifecycle.

    According to The NPD Group, an independent market research firm that tracks the digital entertainment market, June Xbox highlights include:

    · Holding 48 percent share of the overall current-generation console market share, Xbox 360 sold 507,000 units in June, selling nearly twice as many units as other current-generation platforms and maintaining the number-one console spot in the U.S. for 2011.

  • The Microsoft Partner: Optimizing for Cloud Computing

    Yesterday at our Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), I talked to thousands of our partners about the opportunities and challenges presented by our industry’s shift to cloud computing.

    While the path to cloud computing might be different for each customer, the economics, agility and focus the cloud provides will eventually prove irresistible to customers. For our partners, the resulting economic opportunity to work with those customers will, I believe, be equally irresistible.

    Despite the clear opportunity and benefits of cloud computing, the shift may not be easy. However, while it may be challenging, it is necessary. At Microsoft, we are keenly aware of this challenge as we shift the world’s largest software business to the cloud, and we are committed to bringing our partners with us. Partners already work with us today, helping customers realize the benefits of the public cloud.

  • The Midweek Download: July 13th Edition–400M Windows 7 Licenses Sold, plus the Worldwide Partner Conference, Imagine Cup, Windows Phone, IE10 and Windows Azure

    So far this week, the biggest stories out of Microsoft are the Worldwide Partner Conference and the 2011 Imagine Cup. Read on for those and other news bits in this week’s edition of the Midweek Download.

    Worldwide Partner Conference Round Up. This week, Microsoft celebrates the accomplishments of its 640,000 partners from all areas of the globe at the four-day Worldwide Partner Conference in Los Angeles. On day one of WPC, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer credited our partners with helping to make Windows 7 the fastest-selling operating system in history and announced that more than 400 million Windows 7 licenses have been sold to date. On day two of WPC, Satya Nadella, president of the Server and Tools Business, discussed how partners can benefit from the transition to cloud computing by helping customers improve agility, focus on business goals and reduce costs. Not enough WPC news for you? Then check out this feature story on the Microsoft News Center that highlights the benefits of cloud computing and the value of vertical applications and services as well as this feature story with Windows Phone “Mango” partner news. Also on day two, Microsoft announced tools and solutions to help partners capitalize on the opportunities in cloud computing. For more updates on WPC, go to the Microsoft News Center.

    More women than ever at Imagine Cup. As just about anyone who’s paying attention to the technology industry knows, this is the week that the 2011 Imagine Cup finalists were named.

  • Association for Computing Machinery CEO John White: Finding Tomorrow’s Tech Superstars at Imagine Cup

    Just in case you missed it, the Imagine Cup 2011 Worldwide Finals are now under way in New York City.

    Recently, the Official Microsoft Blog had the chance to catch up with Dr. John White, Executive Director and CEO of the New York City-based Association for Computing Machinery, the world’s largest educational and scientific society focused on computing and computer science.

    During our talk, Dr. White touched upon some of the benefits student technology competitions like Imagine Cup provide to both participants and the tech sector at large.

  • Weekend Reading: July 8th Edition–More Windows Phone “Mango” news plus the Rustock botnet, Hotmail, Windows Live Essentials, Imagine Cup and the Worldwide Partners Conference

    Today in Weekend Reading, we’ve got a bevy of great stories for you – everything from Windows Phone to progress on the Rustock spambot to an inspiring story about a visually impaired Microsoft employee who recently broke both the women’s and men’s world records for blind ironman competitors.

    Imagine Cup and the Worldwide Partner Conference. At the Imagine Cup 2011 Worldwide Finals, dozens of student teams showcase software projects that in some cases are already improving disaster relief efforts. Check out this feature story on the Microsoft News Center for more detail. Also, the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) starts next week – so don’t miss this Thursday post on the Official Microsoft Blog about WPC and the Imagine Cup Finals from Frank X. Shaw, corporate vice president of corporate communications here at Microsoft.

    Hotmail still new and cool – even after 15 years. This past Monday on the Fourth of July, Hotmail celebrated its 15th anniversary. Make no mistake - Hotmail has come a long way in those 15 years, and to commemorate a number of important milestones over the last several months, we thought we'd show off a list of 15 insanely cool things you might not know about Hotmail. For more on this story, check out this Tuesday post on the Official Microsoft Blog.

  • This Week’s Forecast – Lots of Stars in NYC and LA…

    Fireworks are a form of global joy. Around the world, at times of great celebration, civilizations have found ways to launch stars into the sky, to create near the earth what we usually can only see from a distance at night. I’ve watched fireworks all over the United States (as recently as Monday of this week!) and in Paris for Bastille Day a few years ago. It’s no wonder that when someone does something spectacular, we call him or her a “star.”

    Later this week, I’ll be in New York City, where on Broadway, stars are born. It’s the culmination of our year-long showcase of the brightest young minds, the kickoff of the worldwide finals of the Imagine Cup, an event that brings together teams of students from around the world who utilize Microsoft technology to address some of the world’s toughest challenges.

    The Imagine Cup is now in its ninth year, and has become one of the pre-eminent youth technology competitions in the world. Last year, about 325,000 students from more than 100 countries participated. This year, about 352,000 young people from around the globe signed up to compete.

  • The Midweek Download: July 6th Edition–Developers Catch a Glimpse of IE10, Microsoft Nabs 7 IDEA Awards plus Windows Phone 7 and Office 365

    The Fourth of July holiday may mean a shortened week at Microsoft, but it didn’t keep the company from making news on a number of fronts, including the next version of Internet Explorer.

    Second IE10 platform preview available for developers. IE10 Platform Preview 2, the same HTML5 engine seen in the recent public “Windows 8” demos, is now available for download. With this update, IE10 continues to deliver support for site-ready HTML5 technologies as well as improving performance. IE10 continues IE9’s precedent of enabling Web applications to do more in the browser without plug-ins. It also continues the pattern of offloading work to the parts of a PC that are best suited for them, like the GPU for graphics, and different processor cores for background compilation of JavaScript. For more on this story, read this June 29th post on the IEBlog and this June 29th post on the Exploring IE Blog.

    And in other Internet Explorer news…Responsive Web pages result in happier consumers. With Web workers, Web applications are more responsive by offloading complex JavaScript algorithms to run in the background. IE10 Platform Preview 2 includes complete tooling support for Web workers. Want more details? Check out this July 1st post on the IEBlog.

  • Hotmail Still New and Cool–Even After 15 Years

    This past Monday on the Fourth of July, Hotmail celebrated its 15th anniversary. Make no mistake - Hotmail has come a long way in those 15 years, and to commemorate a number of important milestones over the last several months, we thought we'd show off a list of 15 insanely cool things you might not know about Hotmail.

    This is not the Hotmail of 2005:

    1) Hotmail in 2011 is not Hotmail in 2005 (or Hotmail in 2010, for that matter.)

    2) Hotmail is really, really fast – 10-20x faster than last year, and even faster than Gmail in certain areas.

  • Microsoft Releases New Threat Data on Rustock

    Since successfully taking down the Rustock botnet on March 16th, Microsoft has continued to analyze the threat, investigate leads on the operations and owners of the botnet and work with Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) worldwide to help the legitimate owners of Rustock-infected computers to clean their computers of malware. Today, the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit (DCU), the Microsoft Malware Protection Center (MMPC) and Trustworthy Computing released a new Special Edition Security Intelligence Report (SIR) entitled “Battling the Rustock Threat.”

    This report provides new data on the Rustock botnet and the impact of the malware on computers around the world. In addition to the report, we have released updated data on computer infection reductions we’ve seen since the takedown and a video which captures infected Internet Protocols (IPs) from all around the world attempting to check into the Waledac and Rustock botnets as recently as two weeks ago.

  • Weekend Reading: July 1st Edition–Angry Birds & AmazonFresh Come to Windows Phone, plus Office 365, Hotmail and Surface 2.0

    Just in case you missed it, Microsoft announced the availability of Office 365 earlier this week. The company also made big news on several other fronts, including Windows Phone, Hotmail and others.

    Angry Birds and AmazonFresh now on Windows Phone. It’s been a big week for Windows Phone. Earlier this week, it was announced that the ultra-popular game Angry Birds has arrived on the Windows Phone mobile platform. As if that wasn’t big enough news, Microsoft also announced AmazonFresh, a new app exclusive to Windows Phone from the online retailing giant that enables customers to place grocery orders from their phones.

    Ringing in “Mango.” “Custom ringtones are coming” to Windows Phone, according to this Tuesday post on the Windows Phone Blog by Alice Luu, a program manager on the Windows Phone Engineering Team.