The Official Microsoft Blog

News & Perspectives

December, 2011

  • Top Official Microsoft Blog Posts of 2011

    It’s that time of year again, when people naturally look back on all that’s happened in the last 12 months and try to take stock of it all. We do the same thing here at Microsoft.

    Here’s a list of the top 10 posts that were published on The Official Microsoft Blog in 2011, ranked according to readership. In this list, you’ll find news about the Kinect for Windows SDK, Xbox, botnets, our vision of what the future of productivity and digital entertainment look like and a host of others. So, without further ado:

    1. Kinect for Windows SDK to Arrive Spring 2011. The Kinect for Xbox 360 in and of itself was a huge story for Microsoft this year. However, as we’ve learned, there’s so much more to the Kinect technology than games and living room entertainment. In late February, the company announced that a Kinect for Windows SDK would arrive in the spring, an announcement that clearly resonated with readers. The Kinect for Windows SDK was developed and released by Microsoft Research (MSR) in collaboration with IEB. It gives academic researchers and enthusiasts access to key pieces of the Kinect system—such as the audio technology, system application programming interfaces and direct control of the Kinect sensor itself so they can develop the next generation of natural user interface (NUI) technologies.

    2. The Future of the Living Room. Last summer, Microsoft unveiled its vision for the future of the living room and digital entertainment.

  • Weekend Reading: Dec. 23rd Edition–Top Microsoft Newsmakers of 2011, More on the Kinect Effect, plus Bing, MSN, Office and a Great Last-Minute Holiday Shopping Guide

    In this, the final 2011 edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on top Microsoft newsmakers, Bing, Kinect, MSN, Office and a great holiday shopping guide for those of you who really, really put off your shopping until the last minute!

    Microsoft people: Some of the coolest newsmakers we met in 2011. A real pleasure of working in the Microsoft News Center is being able to introduce you to fascinating people doing interesting and exciting things, both inside and outside the company. It’s a real challenge to pick a selection of these profile stories for our end-of-year slide show. See and hear from some of the people we connected with in 2011, from tech luminaries such as Jaron Lanier and Bill Buxton to lesser-known but equally inspiring Microsoft employees such as Patricia Walsh and Albert Rocker. To see the profiles, read this feature story (and slide show) on the Microsoft News Center.

    Bing takes stock of 2011 and the year ahead. A few weeks ago, we shared the top Bing searches for 2011 which captured a snapshot of the year’s most important people, places and moments in time. With 2011 wrapping up and the New Year around the bend, we fielded a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults on how they felt about 2011 and how they plan to ring in 2012. From resolutions to New Year’s Eve celebration plans, read this Tuesday post on the Bing Search Blog to hear what they had to say.

  • 2012 Marks Final CES Keynote for Microsoft

    Our industry moves fast and changes faster. And so the way we communicate with our customers must change in equally speedy ways. To ensure it does, we constantly challenge our assumptions. For example:

    · What’s the right time and place to make announcements?

    · Are we adjusting to the changing dynamics of our customers?

    · Are we doing something because it’s the right thing to do, or because “it’s the way we’ve always done it”?

    After thinking about questions like these, we have decided that this coming January will be our last keynote presentation and booth at CES. We’ll continue to participate in CES as a great place to connect with partners and customers across the PC, phone and entertainment industries, but we won’t have a keynote or booth after this year because our product news milestones generally don’t align with the show’s January timing.

  • The Midweek Download: Dec. 21st Edition–Protecting Your Digital Identity in Windows 8, plus Internet Explorer 10, Windows Phone and Windows Live

    In this edition of The Midweek Download, we’ve got stories from Building Windows 8, Internet Explorer, Windows Phone and a few others. Don’t miss ‘em.

    And now, these messages from Building Windows 8. If you’re looking for the latest word on Windows 8, look no further than the Building Windows 8 blog. In the past week, the blog has published three new posts you don’t want to miss – Dec. 14th’s “Protecting your digital identity”, Dec. 16th’s “Signing in with a picture password” and Monday’s “Optimizing picture password security”. Check ‘em out.

    Sound and sound reproduction: a conversation with Gareth Jones. In this Dec. 16th post, Next at Microsoft Blog Editor Steve Clayton highlights the third in a series of beautiful videos from Microsoft UK’s developer evangelism team. Gareth Jones is a record producer who has worked with Depeche Mode and Erasure. In this 5-minute film, he talks about how he hears the world, the loudness war and offers up some advice on how to produce sounds that work well on small speakers of the kind we have in modern mobile phones.

  • The Microsoft Guide to Last-Minute Holiday Shopping

    The office hallways are starting to empty out, the kids are out of school for the holiday break and there’s a festive feeling in the air. If you haven’t finished your holiday shopping yet, it can be easy to get a little frantic. But as the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy says: “Don’t Panic!”

    You still have time. You have your sharp intellect and your wit. And you have the power of the Internet at your fingertips.

    Just because you’re scrambling to finish up your holiday shopping doesn’t mean you can’t compare prices. Using Windows Phone and Bing, you can comparison shop on the go. Fire up Bing Vision, which allows you to scan a product, a UPC or QR code – and see how much it costs and where to buy it.

  • Apps Are Not Enough: Putting People First

    This is a time of year where we tend to think about connecting and reconnecting with all the people we care about, virtually and in person. And it’s a time of year where many of us are incredibly busy – wrapping up our to-do’s for the year, wrapping up holiday presents, sending out cards, getting ready for holiday travel or preparing for visitors. And it turns out, there really isn’t an app for the holidays that lets us do it all. Smile

    But here at Microsoft, we’ve always been a company that thinks about what we can do to make people’s lives better – from putting a PC on every desk to creating the universal productivity solutions used all over the world to creating Xbox and Kinect, which are revolutionizing gaming and entertainment. Or just making it easier to communicate, to connect, to get enough done to allow us to relax.

  • Weekend Reading: Dec. 16th Edition–Nokia’s First Windows Phone Set to Hit the U.S. in January, plus Skype, 11 Microsoft Milestones in 2011, Hotmail & MSN

    In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories about the first Windows Phone from Nokia coming to the U.S., Skype, 10 new reasons to love Hotmail and MSN.

    Nokia Lumia 710 coming to T-Mobile in January. Nokia’s first U.S. Windows Phone—the Lumia 710—lands at T-Mobile on Jan. 11th, the companies announced today. The Lumia 710 is a solid, no-nonsense smartphone designed to perform: It has a 3.7-inch ClearBlack WVGA touchscreen, a Qualcomm 1.4 GHz Snapdragon processor, and a 5-megapixel autofocus camera. Besides all the great new features of Windows Phone 7.5, it also comes pre-stocked with popular apps including ESPN, Netflix, The Weather Channel, Slacker Radio, T-Mobile TV, and Nokia Drive for voice-guided, turn-by-turn navigation. Read more about the Lumia 710 in this Wednesday post on the Windows Phone Blog. Also, two handy and much-anticipated new Microsoft apps for Windows Phone were headed to Marketplace this week – SkyDrive and Lync 2010. Below are two screenshots of the Lumia 710 in white and black:


  • The Midweek Download: Dec. 14th Edition–Microsoft Releases New Windows Azure Features, plus Dynamics CRM, SkyDrive and Internet Explorer

    In this edition of The Midweek Download, we’ve got stories about new features and functionality in Windows Azure and a few other bits and pieces.

    Microsoft releases new features and functionality for Windows Azure. Earlier this week, Microsoft released new features and functionally for Windows Azure, including new open source capabilities, SQL Azure Database improvements and a simplified Windows Azure billing and management experience. Developers that are partial to open source development will benefit from the first Windows Azure software development kit (SDK) that includes language libraries for Node.JS, with support for hosting, storage and service bus. For more on this story, read this Monday post on the STB News Bytes Blog and this feature story on the Microsoft News Center.

    Microsoft and Nissan establish strategic relationship for next-gen dealer management system. Microsoft and Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. announced on Sunday a strategic relationship to collaborate and create a next-generation dealer management system based on Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

  • Microsoft Announces 15 Imagine Cup Grants Finalists and Judging Panel

    At the Imagine Cup 2011 Worldwide Finals this past July, Microsoft announced a three-year, $3 million competitive grant program to help Imagine Cup participants take their ideas and their innovative solutions to market as a next step to solving the world’s toughest problems. The winning teams will be awarded with a grant package in the form of cash, software, resources and other on-the-ground-support.

    Today, we are thrilled to announce the 15 finalist teams and the distinguished panel of judges that will ultimately select the Imagine Cup Grants winners in late January, 2012.

  • Poll: What Xbox 360 Game Are You Most Jazzed About this Holiday Season?

    The holidays are upon us, which means lots of new exciting game titles for the hit Xbox 360 and Kinect for Xbox 360 gaming systems.

    What we at Microsoft want to know is, what game do you hope to unwrap this holiday season?

  • Record Black Friday Sales Keep Xbox 360 the Top-Selling Console in November

    It’s been a heck of a few days for Xbox 360.

    Earlier this week, Microsoft unveiled a new dashboard for Xbox LIVE designed to transform the way people consume digital entertainment on their TV. The update brings voice control through the simplicity of Kinect and the intelligence of Bing, and rolls out the first group of new, custom applications from world-leading TV and entertainment content providers on Xbox LIVE.

    And today, Microsoft announced that the Xbox 360 has closed another impressive month, strengthening its position in the current-generation console market with record sales of 1.7 million units in the U.S. in November, the only current-generation console to sell more than one million units, and nearly double the second-place console.

  • Weekend Reading: Dec. 9th Edition–Xbox LIVE Gets a New Look, Microsoft and GE Team Up on Healthcare, plus “Ellen”, Windows Phone, Hotmail and MSN

    This edition of Weekend Reading has stories on Xbox 360, Microsoft’s new joint venture with GE, Windows Phone and several products recently featured on “Ellen”. Remember, only 15 shopping days left till Christmas, folks!

    A big week for Xbox 360. Earlier this week, Microsoft unveiled a new Xbox dashboard for all your digital entertainment purposes. You can read more about it in this press release on the Microsoft News Center, which features a slideshow and this post on The Official Microsoft Blog from Marc Whitten, corporate vice president of Xbox LIVE. Also, don’t miss this interview on the Bing Search Blog with Michelle Holtmann, whose core search team was instrumental in developing the Bing on Xbox capability seen in the new dashboard. Finally, the Xbox Companion app for Windows Phone is now available – read more about it in this Wednesday post on the Windows Phone Blog. Below is a screenshot of the EPIX interface on the new dashboard, which lets you choose from thousands of hit Hollywood movies like “Iron Man 2” and “True Grit”:


  • Microsoft and GE Healthcare to Create New Joint Venture to Enable Better Population Health Management

    I am pleased to share that Microsoft and GE Healthcare have just announced an exciting new initiative aimed at improving healthcare quality and the patient experience. The two companies are creating a joint venture that will combine Microsoft’s deep expertise in building platforms and ecosystems with GE Healthcare’s experience in clinical and administrative workflow solutions. The new venture, which is pending regulatory approval and has yet to be named, will develop and market an open, interoperable technology platform and next-generation clinical applications that will help enable better population health management. The new company will be headquartered near the Microsoft campus in Redmond, WA.

    In addition to the new joint venture, GE Healthcare and Microsoft will each maintain a strong presence in the healthcare IT industry, and will continue to sell their own products and services to healthcare organizations around the globe. Healthcare is one of our fastest-growing business segments – Microsoft has over 160,000 healthcare customers worldwide, and over 20,000 partners selling a broad portfolio of solutions on Microsoft technologies. We are more committed than ever to our healthcare customers and partners, and view this new joint venture as a great addition to our ongoing efforts.

  • The Midweek Download: Dec. 7th Edition–Microsoft Unveils the Windows Store to Developers, plus More on Windows 8, Internet Explorer 10 and Silverlight 5

    In this edition of The Midweek Download, we’ve got stories for developers on the new Windows Store, Windows 8, Internet Explorer 10 and Silverlight.

    Previewing the Windows Store. On Tuesday, Microsoft gave developers their first glimpses of the Windows Store, which will make it easy for Windows customers to find, try and buy useful, high-quality apps from practically anywhere in the world once the next version of Windows – codenamed “Windows 8” – becomes available to the general public. With Windows 8 and the Windows Store, developers can enjoy a built-in distribution and update mechanism for their apps. Built using HTML5 and JavaScript, the Windows Store is a fast, fluid, full-screen Metro-style app taking advantage of the Metro-style design principles inspired in Windows 8. We also unveiled a new Windows Store Blog, which will help start a dialogue between Microsoft and developers. Below is a screen shot of a third-party transaction platform from the United Kingdom’s Daily Telegraph newspaper:


  • A New Way to Enjoy TV Entertainment

    On Dec. 6th, we will release a free update to Xbox LIVE that can transform every Xbox 360 into an all-in-one device to enjoy your entertainment.

    The update is another huge step toward realizing our vision of bringing you all your entertainment, shared with the people you care about, in an easy way. That journey started with games, and quickly included movies and TV on Xbox LIVE through our own video service and through partners. We were the first console to bring Netflix into the living room, and we’ve continued to add top TV and entertainment partners on a global scale such as AT&T, ESPN, Hulu Plus and in the U.S.; TELUS in Canada, BSkyB in the United Kingdom; CANAL+ in France and FOXTEL in Australia. Also, we recently announced another 40 global entertainment partners coming to Xbox LIVE.

    Today, we have more than 57 million Xbox 360 consoles in homes across the world, and more than 35 million of those are connected to Xbox LIVE, a service which sees its members log cumulatively 2.1 billion hours a month. We have something very special in the living room, and with our latest update to Xbox LIVE, it only gets better.

  • Weekend Reading: Dec. 2nd Edition–MSR Helps Tackle HIV, a Historic Week for Xbox plus Bing’s Top 2011 Searches, MSN, Windows Phone & More

    With Thanksgiving and Black Friday over, the holiday season is now in full swing. Here’s a little Weekend Reading for you in between trips to the mall – or your favorite online stores.

    Microsoft Research: How fighting e-mail spam helps the search for an HIV vaccine. Helping tackle some of the most urgent global challenges is firmly on the agenda for Microsoft Research (MSR) – applying our experience, our depth and breadth of expertise, our partnerships and the power of software to tackle these challenges. More than 1.8 million people die of HIV-related causes each year — approximately 5,000 deaths per day. One of the great challenges in fighting HIV is that the virus is constantly mutating to avoid attack by the immune system. That’s where David Heckerman and Jonathan Carlson of Microsoft Research along with a Microsoft Computational Biology Tool called PhyloD come in. This software enables efficient data mining which then leads to specific cell analysis that helps detail virus patterns for further analysis. To get the rest of this story, which features a short video, read this Thursday post on the Next at Microsoft Blog.

    Xbox 360 sells nearly 1M consoles in biggest week in Xbox history. Entering the seventh year of its lifecycle, Xbox 360 just closed the biggest sales week in the history of the hit digital entertainment system, selling more than 960,000 consoles in the U.S. during the week of Black Friday. Also, more than 750,000 Kinect for Xbox 360 sensors were sold in the U.S. – standalone and bundled. Read this Tuesday post on The Official Microsoft Blog for the rest of the story.