The Official Microsoft Blog

News & Perspectives

October, 2011

  • Feeling the Kinect Effect

    When Microsoft launched Kinect for Xbox 360 one year ago this week, our initial focus was controller-free games and entertainment. Once only the stuff of science fiction, Kinect became a phenomenon across the globe.

    Within the first 60 days, Kinect sold more than 8 million sensors, setting the Guinness Book World Record as the fastest-selling consumer electronics device. It extended the realm of what’s possible for a traditional gaming console and changed the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft, bringing new categories of consumers to Xbox 360.

    We knew we had a hit in gaming and entertainment on our hands. After all, we’d been testing it and playing games ourselves for a while, so we knew what magic felt like. We also knew that we were delivering a platform, one that was bigger than the living room, and bound only by the imagination and ingenuity of the world… which is to say, the sky was the limit.

  • Weekend Reading: Oct. 28th Edition–Nokia Announces Two New Windows Phones, Office Unveils the Future of Productivity and Microsoft is Named the No. 1 Global Workplace

    It’s been a heck of a week on the news front here at Microsoft. First, Nokia announced its first two smartphones running the Windows Phone mobile platform. Next, the Office team unveiled a concept video that shows its vision of the future of productivity. Then, it was announced late Thursday night that the Great Places to Work Institute had named Microsoft the number one global workplace. Finally, the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit announced a settlement in the Kelihos botnet case. Those stories and more in this edition of Weekend Reading…

    Nokia’s first two Windows Phones are here, and they’re awesome. On Wednesday, the first two Windows Phones from Nokia were unveiled at Nokia World 2011 in London – the Lumia 800 and the Lumia 710. To get all the latest news on the new Nokia phones, read this post on the Windows Phone Blog and this press release from Nokia. Also, to read more about the partnership between Microsoft and Nokia, check out this Wednesday post on The Official Microsoft Blog. Below is a screenshot of the Lumia 800. Pretty, isn’t it? If that’s not enough for you, take a gander at this image gallery on the Microsoft News Center.

    Nokia Lumia 800

  • Microsoft Recognized as the No. 1 Global Workplace by the Great Places to Work Institute

    I have been at Microsoft now since mid-1989. In that time, I have had the opportunity to do a variety of jobs; experience successes and failures, work with truly amazing people, and watch this company emerge as a force for good in the corporate environment and in the world at large. As I look around at our employees, I hope they have the same opportunities I’ve had. This company seems to produce new opportunities for people each and every day.

    Being recognized as the number one global workplace by the Great Places to Work Institute is an honor. Our investments in our employees and the opportunities for them have not gone unnoticed. We are particularly proud of the work people get to do every day, and the impact we have on the world around us.

  • Microsoft Offers a Glimpse into the Future of Productivity

    As the president of the Office Division, people often ask me what Microsoft’s view is on the future of productivity. I think one of the best ways to answer a question like that is to show our vision by sharing a new concept video.

    We create these videos to help tell the story we see unfolding in technology, and how it will impact our lives in the future. The video shows our vision for a future where technology extends and highlights our productive capabilities; it helps us manage our time better, focus our attention on the most important things, and foster meaningful connections with the people we care about.

    All of the ideas in the video are based on real technology. Some of the capabilities, such as speech recognition, real time collaboration and data visualization already exist today. Others are not yet available in specific products, but represent active research and development happening at Microsoft and other companies.

  • The Midweek Download: Oct. 26th Edition–Shining a Light on Windows Phone Apps, plus Windows 8, IE10 and a Microsoft “Wizard”

    In this edition of The Midweek Download, we’ve got developer stories from Windows Phone, Building Windows 8 and Internet Explorer, plus a great profile on Microsoft “wizard” Steven Bathiche on the Next at Microsoft Blog.

    Shining a light on your Windows Phone apps. Developers often ask us, “How can Microsoft help me promote my app?” Beyond looking at the best practices we published, we’ve heard you, and as a result have launched a program called “Your App Here”. The goal is to highlight great applications and give them a chance to shine. The program is available to developers in the United States. Read this Oct. 20th post on the Windows Phone Developer Blog for an overview on the new program. Below is a screenshot of the “Your App Here” program:

    Windows Phone App Promo

  • Microsoft Reaches Settlement with Piatti, dotFREE Group in Kelihos Case

    Last month, I wrote about how Microsoft and our partners, Kyrus and Kaspersky, took down the Kelihos botnet and that for the first time, Microsoft took the step of naming specific defendants in a civil case involving a botnet. In the legal case supporting the Kelihos takedown, Microsoft sued defendants Dominique Alexander Piatti, dotFree Group S.R.O. and John Does 1 through 22 associated with the IP addresses and Internet domains alleged to be involved in the command and control structure for the Kelihos botnet.

    Today, I’m pleased to say that Microsoft has reached a settlement with defendants Dominique Alexander Piatti and his company, dotFREE Group SRO, and will be dismissing the lawsuit against them pursuant to the agreement. However, the case for the remaining John Does remains open, as Microsoft continues our investigation to hold those responsible for the Kelihos botnet.

  • Microsoft and Nokia: Fast Out of the Gate

    It’s hard to believe that it’s little more than eight months since I was in London with Nokia CEO Stephen Elop and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer when they announced a broad strategic partnership that combined the collective strengths of both companies to form a new global mobile ecosystem.

    At that time, we indicated that success in the rapidly growing and evolving smartphone market required speed, and we said we’d be “swift.”

    And swift we’ve been.

    Ben Rudolph’s blog post earlier today demonstrates that craftsmanship and styling didn’t come at the expense of speed. Ben’s post focuses on the beauty and benefits of the new Nokia phones; I’m focusing on the significance of this strategic partnership to smartphone users worldwide.

  • UNICEF's Little Orange Box Goes Digital This Halloween

    Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog post from Ryutaro Mizuno, Director of Marketing, U.S. Fund for UNICEF.

    Most people recognize the iconic orange collection boxes synonymous with Trick-or-Treat UNICEF, a 61-year-old campaign that has raised more than $164 million to aid children around the world. Well, this Halloween, they’re going mobile. Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF collection boxes now feature Microsoft Tags so that folks wishing to donate can do so directly through their mobile phones.

    How does it work?

    To get started with Tag, you first need to download the free Tag app to your phone. Either type on your phone’s browser or go to your app store and search under “Microsoft Tag.” The app is available for iPhone, Android, Windows Phone 7, BlackBerry, J2ME and Symbian phones. After downloading the app, open it, touch Scan, and then hover your camera over the Tag. Your phone will instantly scan the Tag and take you to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF’s mobile donation site (Windows Phone and BlackBerry users will be prompted to take a picture of the Tag rather than scan).

  • A Busy Week for Microsoft in Silicon Valley

    In addition to its long history and growing presence with more than 2,400 employees, Microsoft is a very active participant in all aspects of the Silicon Valley. This week is a great example of the breadth and depth of the company’s relationships within the tech industry, the venture community, entrepreneurs, media and community leaders.

    Fox Business Network

    On Tuesday, Dan’l Lewin, corporate vice president, Strategic and Emerging Business Team, participated in an interview with Liz Claman on the Fox Business Network live from the Technology Museum. For the last three years, Fox Business has produced a special series called, “Three Days in the Valley.” This is a series of live interviews with top Silicon Valley CEOs and executives and one of the most popular interview series for the network. A key theme of the interview was Valley entrepreneurship, and Lewin highlighted the Microsoft BizSpark program for startups.

  • Weekend Reading: Oct. 21st Edition–Microsoft “Kinects” with Sesame Street & NatGeo, plus new Windows Phones and a Cool Microsoft Research Project

    In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got Kinect and Xbox 360 news, a sneak peek at new Windows Phones from the All Things D Asia conference and a look into a cool new project at Microsoft Research.

    Microsoft teams up with Sesame Street and National Geographic for a little playful learning. The upcoming “Kinect Sesame Street TV” experience, announced Tuesday at an event in New York and going on sale in the spring, will bring true interactivity to the classic children’s TV show. Viewers will be invited to jump into Sesame Street and play. Microsoft’s motion-sensing camera will let children interact through voice and gesture with Sesame Street characters who will respond based on the child’s actions. If Cookie Monster says “stand up and clap your hands with me,” he’ll recognize whether the child is playing along and interact accordingly. Or if Grover asks a child to throw a coconut, he’ll look to where the child “threw” it based on how hard they heave. Pretty cool, eh? For more on this story, read this feature story on the Microsoft News Center and this Tuesday post on The Official Microsoft Blog. if you have kids (or if you ARE a kid), you do NOT want to miss this! In the photo below, a few children experience a new way to learn through play with Kinect for Xbox 360 as they try out titles from Microsoft's latest partnerships with Sesame Workshop and National Geographic at an event in New York:

  • The Midweek Download: Oct. 19th Edition–Windows Intune is Here, plus More News on Windows 8, Windows Phone 7.5 & Internet Explorer 10

    In this edition of The Midweek Download, we’ve got stories on Windows Intune, PASS Summit 2011, Windows Phone 7.5, Windows 8 and Internet Explorer 10. Check ‘em out.

    The next release of Windows Intune is here. On March 23rd, Microsoft delivered the first commercial release of Windows Intune, a subscription service that offers PC management and security through the cloud along with upgrade rights to Windows 7 Enterprise and future versions of Windows. Less than seven months later, the next release of Windows Intune is now available! Read this Monday post on the Windows for Your Business Blog for the rest of the story.

    News from the PASS Summit 2011. Kicking off PASS Summit 2011, Microsoft Corporate Vice President Ted Kummert addressed an audience of more than 5,000 technology professionals to discuss how Microsoft is evolving its data platform to respond to customer needs. For more details on PASS, read this press release on the Microsoft News Center and this Oct. 12th post on The Official Microsoft Blog authored by Kummert. Also at PASS, Microsoft announced new technologies that will help customers achieve greater flexibility and scalability across public, private and hybrid cloud deployments.

  • Kinect & Xbox 360 Break Through the “Fourth Wall” with Sesame Street & National Geographic

    Back in May, I wrote about the transformation of Xbox. Since then, we’ve had a lot to say about Xbox, TV and entertainment, and honestly, the conversation has just begun.

    Televised entertainment is being transformed, not only in how it’s delivered, but in how it’s becoming more social, more interactive and more personal. Easy two-way interaction creates entirely new forms of TV entertainment, and nowhere is that more apparent than on Xbox 360.

    In theater and movies there is a concept of the “fourth wall,” an imaginary barrier that keeps the audience separate from the art that is unfolding in front of them. The same idea translates to TV entertainment. There have been all sorts of attempts to break the wall; who can forget Ferris Bueller talking to the audience, for example? But what if you could really break through that wall, and actually interact with your favorite characters and storylines, and become part of the show, participate naturally with the community of fans watching a popular show? Soon, with Kinect and Xbox LIVE, people will do all that and more.

    In New York today, we launched a new initiative called “playful learning”, the result of our collaboration with some of the brightest minds in child learning and development.

  • Behind the Scenes of NUI at Microsoft

    I’ve talked on a number of occasions on The Official Microsoft Blog about Natural User Interface (NUI) and the transformational effect this will have on how we interact with technology in the years to come. Kinect is one technology that pushes the boundaries of how we can build more natural ways to interact with technology – through gestures and speech – but that’s only one aspect of our work around NUI.

    In the video below, you’ll see Kinect and a number of other technologies, and hear from some of the brightest minds at Microsoft pushing this next frontier of technology forward. As well as gestures and speech, touch is an important part of NUI. Steve Bathiche, who heads up our Applied Sciences Group, shows us Surface 2.0, and Andy Wilson of Microsoft Research shows us a project called LightSpace. Curtis Wong shows us the integration of Worldwide Telescope with Kinect, and introduces the notion that context – what we’re doing, or have done, or where we are located – will all play a part in the emergence of natural user interfaces.

  • Weekend Reading: Oct. 14th Edition–Microsoft Officially Welcomes Skype, Xbox 360 Stays No. 1, plus Windows Phone, Internet Explorer, Excel and MSN

    This was a big week for Microsoft on the news front. We announced the close of the Skype acquisition, Xbox 360 news and plenty of other news bits for all the Microsoft news hounds out there.

    Microsoft officially welcomes Skype. On Thursday, it was announced that Microsoft had closed its acquisition of Skype. “Skype is a phenomenal product and brand that is loved by hundreds of millions of people around the world,” said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in this press release on the Microsoft News Center. Tony Bates, president of the Skype Division of Microsoft, also weighed in on the deal in this Thursday post on The Official Microsoft Blog, which features a short video of Bates talking about the acquisition.

    What a week for Xbox 360! Lots of big news out of Xbox 360 this week. First, Microsoft announced that the Xbox 360 continued its reign over its competitors in September and has now sold more units in the U.S. than any other console for 15 of the past 16 months.

  • Tony Bates Weighs in on Microsoft’s Acquisition of Skype

    I am delighted to announce the deal with Microsoft has formally closed, and Skype is now a division of Microsoft. This represents a huge leap forward in Skype’s mission to be the communications choice for a billion people every day.

    Joining forces with Microsoft is the best way to accelerate this mission and capitalize on our position at the intersection of social, mobile and video communications. Simply put, we want to transform communications.

  • Xbox 360 Takes the No. 1 Console Spot in the U.S. - Again

    Xbox 360 is on a serious roll.

    Today, Microsoft announced that the Xbox 360 continued its reign over its competitors in September and has now sold more units in the U.S. than any other console for 15 of the past 16 months. The popular digital entertainment system is now poised to finish 2011 as the best-selling console. The news follows closely on the heels of our announcement last week that nearly 40 world-leading TV and entertainment providers, including Bravo, Comcast, HBO, Syfy, Verizon FiOS in the U.S., BBC in the UK, Rogers in Canada, Telefónica in Spain and Televisa in Mexico and many others, will begin providing live TV and video-on-demand experiences via Xbox 360 this holiday season.

    The massively popular Kinect system also continues to gain momentum. By this holiday season, the Kinect’s portfolio of games will grow to 75 titles – four times larger than last holiday season.

  • Microsoft Expands Data Platform to Help Customers Manage the ‘New Currency of the Cloud’

    This morning, I gave a keynote at the PASS Summit 2011 here in Seattle, a gathering of about 4,000 IT professionals and developers worldwide. I talked about Microsoft’s roadmap for helping customers manage and analyze any data, of any size, anywhere -- on premises, and in the private or public cloud.

    Microsoft makes this possible through SQL Server 2012 and through new investments to help customers manage ‘big data’, including an Apache Hadoop-based distribution for Windows Server and Windows Azure and a strategic partnership with Hortonworks. Our announcements today highlight how we enable our customers to take advantage of the cloud to better manage the ‘currency’ of their data.

  • The Midweek Download: Oct. 12th Edition–Reducing Runtime Memory in Windows 8, Porting iPhone & Android Apps to Windows Phone and Craig Mundie on a New Era in Computing

    In this edition of The Midweek Download, we’ve got stories on Windows 8, Windows Phone, Internet Explorer 10 and a video featuring Microsoft Chief Research & Strategy Officer Craig Mundie.

    Reducing runtime memory in Windows 8. The runtime memory usage of Windows 8 is an important factor in determining the Windows 8 system requirements, as well as the broadened spectrum of devices that will host Windows 8. As you know, we’re delivering the complete Windows 8 experience on SoC-based devices characterized by low power consumption. This makes it even more important to leave lots of memory available for multiple concurrent apps and to sustain the overall responsiveness of devices. For more on this story, read this Oct. 7th post on the Building Windows 8 Blog.

    More on porting iPhone and Android apps to Windows Phone. Windows Phone 7.5 is just out of the door, smoothly going to users’ phones. So, if you or your friends haven’t started to look at Windows Phone, this is great timing. Microsoft is excited to announce new guidance based on migration samples and a SQLite to SQL Server Compact database conversion tool. We hope that these new items, combined with our previous extensive guides (for Android, iPhone, and Symbian Qt), will accelerate your ramp-up time, and improve your experience in porting apps to Windows Phone from iPhone and Android. Read this Monday post on the Windows Phone Developer Blog for more detail.

  • Weekend Reading: Oct. 7th Edition–European Commission Approves Skype Acquisition, Microsoft Announces a Slew of Live TV Partners for Xbox 360, plus Windows phone 7.5 and Hotmail

    It was a big week at Microsoft to say the least. In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got news stories about Skype, Xbox 360, Hotmail and Windows Phone 7.5. Check ‘em out.

    European Commission approves Skype acquisition. Last May, Microsoft and Skype Global S.à r.l announced that they entered into a definitive agreement under which Microsoft would acquire Skype, the leading Internet communications company, for $8.5 billion in cash from the investor group led by Silver Lake. Today, the acquisition was approved by the European regulators. Read this press release on the Microsoft News Center to see a statement from Brad Smith, executive vice president and general counsel at Microsoft, regarding the approval of the acquisition by the European Commission.

    Microsoft teams up with Comcast, Verizon and others in slew of content deals. Earlier this week, Microsoft announced that nearly 40 world-leading TV and entertainment providers, including Bravo, Comcast, HBO, Syfy, Verizon FiOS in the U.S., BBC in the UK, Rogers in Canada, Telefónica in Spain and Televisa in Mexico and many others, will begin providing live TV and video-on-demand experiences via Xbox 360 this holiday season. To get the rest of this story, read this Wednesday post on The Official Microsoft Blog. Below is a screenshot showing off the voice-powered search feature on Xbox 360:


  • Poll: What’s Your Favorite New Windows Phone 7.5 Feature?

    On Sept. 27th, Microsoft started rolling out Windows Phone 7.5, the next version of the Windows Phone mobile platform.

    Windows Phone 7.5 comes chock full of hundreds of new features and experiences designed to build on the phone’s intuitive, “people-first” foundation – multitasking, more integrated apps, primo mobile Web browsing, and powerful and personalized tools, like integrated social networking and conversation threads, for connecting with the people in our lives.

    Now that the update has been available for a while, we’d like to ask readers this: What’s your favorite new Windows Phone 7.5 feature?

  • Why Now is the Time to Take Another Look at Hotmail

    Over the past year and a half, the Hotmail team has worked extremely hard to release both improvements to the service and completely new features that help people work through their e-mail quicker.

    Unquestionably, we’re all extremely proud of the product we’ve created – today more than ever.

    At the same time, we understand that there’s still a perception that Hotmail is slow, spammy, lacking on storage – essentially outdated.

    We looked at that as a challenge. Why not go above and beyond to not only fix the pain points but create an inbox that feels like a true upgrade compared to the others out there?

  • Microsoft & Partners Introduce New Era of Interactive Entertainment

    Of all the screens in our lives, the TV has changed the least – until now. Watch TV. Turn the knob. Grab the remote. Put in a (tape/disc). Stream something. A few months ago, I said (to paraphrase), prepare for the world to change. Today, it changes.

    For context, a couple years back, we used to talk a lot here about “three screens and a cloud.”

    By that, we meant that in the developed world, there are three primary screens that we interact with throughout our days – A PC, a phone and a TV. In recent years, the energy and focus within the industry has primarily been on the phone and PC, and of course that continues. But now the TV viewing experience is being transformed as well, through the magic of software and internet-connected services.

    Look no further than this morning’s announcement that nearly 40 world-leading TV and entertainment providers, including Bravo, Comcast, HBO, Syfy, Verizon FiOS in the U.S., BBC in the UK, Rogers in Canada, Telefónica in Spain and Televisa in Mexico and many others, will begin providing live TV and video-on-demand experiences via Xbox 360 this holiday season.

  • The Midweek Download: Oct. 5th Edition–A Look at the Start Screen in Windows 8, plus Windows Phone 7.5 Developer News, Internet Explorer 10 and Windows Azure

    In this edition of The Midweek Download, we’ve got new stories from Building Windows 8, a few news bytes for Windows Phone developers, plus more on BUILD, Internet Explorer 10 and Windows Azure.

    The Start screen in Windows 8. Earlier this week, the Windows team kicked of a series of posts on Building Windows 8 focused on the evolution, design and reimagining of the Start screen. Check out this Monday post and this Tuesday post on Building Windows 8 to get the whole story. Below is a screenshot of the Metro-style Start screen in Windows 8:

  • Sharing the Microsoft 2011 Citizenship Report

    I'm pleased to share with you the Microsoft 2011 Citizenship Report. The report provides an overview and assessment of our work over the past fiscal year (July 2010 to June 2011) to serve communities and work responsibly.

    We release our Citizenship Report at the same time as our Annual Financial Report to give our broad base of stakeholders a full view of Microsoft’s financial and non-financial performance. Corporate responsibility means more than returning value to shareholders – it means engaging with stakeholders to address our responsibilities in the areas of environmental, social and governance issues. We believe all corporations have, as part of their license to operate, a responsibility to contribute positively to society on a global scale. To quote our company’s founder, Bill Gates: “It takes more than great products to make a great company.”

    Our Citizenship Report details our efforts to increase business value while also benefitting society. Our goal is to provide continued transparency and accountability across our business operations. To support this, we have evolved our reporting to candidly and thoughtfully discuss our social and environmental performance, our progress against goals and our focus going forward. We clearly share where we are on track, where we are falling short and how we intend to close the gaps.