The Official Microsoft Blog

News & Perspectives

February, 2012

  • Gone Google? Got Concerns? We Have Alternatives

    During the last week or so, there has been a fair amount of discussion about how Google is making some unpopular changes to some of its most popular products. You can see some of the concerns and worries about lack of choice and so on in these links.

    When we read the coverage last week, it was clear people were honestly wrestling with the choices that had been made for them and were looking for options or alternatives.

    The changes Google announced make it harder, not easier, for people to stay in control of their own information. We take a different approach – we work to keep you safe and secure online, to give you control over your data, and to offer you the choice of saving your information on your hard drive, in the cloud, or on both.

  • The Midweek Download: Feb. 1st Edition–File Management in Windows 8, Two Microsoft Research Profiles, plus Windows Phone, Internet Explorer & Windows Azure

    In this edition of The Midweek Download, we’ve got developer stories on Windows 8, Windows Phone, Internet Explorer and Windows Azure, plus two cool Microsoft Research profiles.

    New on Building Windows 8: Acting on file management feedback. Building Windows 8 previously published three blog posts that discussed the new file management experience in Windows 8: one about the new copy experience, one that detailed the design process we went through for the new conflict experience and one about the changes to Windows Explorer, including the introduction of the ribbon. Those posts prompted great discussion and the Windows team read the approximately 2,200 comments you left. This was wonderful feedback, and, along with information from other feedback channels, the team incorporated it into its design process. Read this Monday post on Building Windows 8 for the rest of the story.

    And in Windows Phone developer news this week… Back in November, we announced a developer promotion for U.S. students called “Big App on Campus.” Time is running out to enter. Though we think it’s a no brainer, some of you have asked “Why should I enter?” Read this Jan. 27 post on the Windows Phone Developer Blog to find out why you should enter. Also devs, don’t miss this Tuesday post on memory profiling for application performance.

  • Gmail and Google Apps Got You Down? Try Hotmail & Office 365

    As I mentioned on this blog yesterday, we’ve placed a series of ads in some major newspapers this week to reach out to people who are concerned or frustrated by some of Google’s recently announced changes to their products and policies. Specifically, we’re doing this to remind those folks that they have a choice when it comes to internet software and services, and we’ve got some great alternatives for them. There was some chatter about this yesterday.

    As a follow up, today’s ad (and this post) focus on email. And picking an email service is an important decision, particularly if you care about your online privacy.

  • Looking for Options? Try the Dynamic Duo of IE9 and Bing

    For the last couple of days we’ve been running a series of Microsoft advertisements in some major newspapers, focused on some key differences between some Google products and practices and some Microsoft products and services. This conversation was really spurred by some pretty unpopular changes Google has made, all designed to make you more valuable to them. We have a different view.

    So to wrap up the week, we’re highlighting Internet Explorer and Bing. Great products on their own, each clearly different than what Google offers, each designed with people first.

    Download Internet Explorer 9, and install an appropriate Tracking Protection List from the Internet Explorer Gallery. You can also find Tracking Protection Lists created by well-known privacy experts at http://privacyonline.org.uk/about.html. That way, you can browse the Web without simultaneously being “browsed” by others.

  • Weekend Reading: Feb. 3rd Edition–Don’t Miss the Kinect Super Sunday Challenge, the New Version of Skype for Windows, plus Windows Phone, Bing & MSN

    In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on the Kinect Super Sunday Challenge, a new version of Skype for Windows, a collection of Windows Phone news bits and some alternative products for those concerned with some of the changes Google has made to its privacy policies.

    Check out the Kinect for Xbox 360 Super Sunday challenge. In an effort to inspire the masses to get off the couch this Sunday, Kinect for Xbox 360, the official console sponsor of the NFL, and NFL PLAY 60 recently announced a challenge to fans and gamers across the country to help make Feb. 5, 2012, “The Most Active Super Bowl Sunday Ever.” Earlier this week, NFL PLAY 60 ambassador and Super Bowl XLIV MVP Drew Brees were joined by kids from an Indianapolis-area middle school in a press conference from the NFL’s Super Bowl media center to outline the details of the “Kinect for Xbox 360 Super Sunday Challenge.” Read this press release on the Microsoft News Center for the rest of the story.

    New version of Skype for Windows now available. We released an updated version of Skype for Windows (version 5.8) Thursday with a few improvements we want to tell you about.

  • Update on Kelihos Botnet and New Related Malware

    There have been some recent confusing reports regarding whether the Kelihos botnet, which Microsoft partnered with Kyrus Tech Inc. and Kaspersky Lab to take down in September 2011, has been resurrected.

    Contrary to some reports, Kaspersky and Microsoft have no evidence that the botnet that was taken down in September has returned to the control of cybercriminals or is spamming again at this time. However, we have seen evidence of distribution of new malware that appears to be a slightly updated variant of the malware that built the original Kelihos botnet. This does not mean that the Kelihos botnet we took down is back in operation, but that a new version of Kelihos malware known as “Backdoor:Win32/Kelihos.B” is being used to create a new botnet. Microsoft has already made protection from this new malware variant available in the Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT). This kind of effort by botherders to try to rebuild a botnet from the ashes of the old is not new.

  • A Better Way to Get Home

    Today, Microsoft announced an agreement with 24/7 Inc. which I believe will redefine what customer service looks like. We’ve come a long way towards improving everyday life using technology, but there is always more we can do. The modern consumer, and I count myself in these ranks, is evolving with the technology we use. Customer service hasn’t kept pace with our evolution. I think this announcement goes a long way toward correcting this.

    By way of a personal example, I live in the Seattle area and a couple of weeks ago we were hit with a fairly heavy snow storm. I was traveling in the Silicon Valley area at the time and my flight home, like many others that day, was canceled. Around 6 a.m., the airline notified me of the cancelled flight with an e-mail, a robo-call to my cell phone and, for good measure, a text message. Each notification had the same message, “Your flight has been canceled. We’re sorry for the inconvenience. Please call our 1-800 number to reschedule.”

    I called the customer service number and, after a 35-minute wait, got through to a representative.

  • The Midweek Download: Feb. 8th Edition–Power Efficiency in Windows 8, Visual Studio Achievements for Windows Phone, Marketplace Expands to Five New Markets & More

    This edition of The Midweek Download has stories on power consumption in Windows 8, a new version of Visual Studio Achievements for Windows Phone devs, the expansion of the Windows Phone Marketplace to five new markets and much more.

    Here’s the latest from Building Windows 8. “Minimizing the power consumption of your PC while maximizing the responsiveness and utility (making it “fast and fluid”), is a significant engineering challenge. While it starts with the work we do in Windows to provide support for the right level resource usage, this work requires developers to take resource utilization into account as they develop their apps. Power efficiency applies to all form factors and all usage scenarios—using less power is the right thing to do for everyone,” writes Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live Division. Read this Tuesday post on Building Windows 8 for the rest of the story.

    Developers, lace up your cleats. A few weeks back, this blog reported on Visual Studio Achievements, which gives developers who use Microsoft Visual Studio a new way to highlight their skills, get recognition for the amazing work they do every day, and add some competitive fun to the development day. Looks like the Windows Phone team has followed suit with Visual Studio Achievements for Windows Phone.

  • Did You Hear About Our 35,500 Employee Philanthropists?

    Editor’s Note: This post, co-authored by Kathleen Hogan, co-chair of the 2011 Microsoft Giving Campaign and Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Services, and S. Somasegar, co-chair of the 2011 Microsoft Giving Campaign and Corporate Vice President, Developer Division, was originally posted on the Microsoft Citizenship Blog.

    We share one the best part-time jobs in the world. As co-chairs of the annual Microsoft Giving Campaign, we get the opportunity to see firsthand how our colleagues bring passion, creativity and generosity to raise much needed funds for community organizations around the globe. In 2010, we raised an outstanding $96 million. We wondered if we could go higher in 2011 and we did, knowing our employees would rise to the challenge.

    In 2011 Microsoft employees across the United States raised $100.5 million, which includes corporate matching. This marks our biggest year yet, and brings the total amount of money raised by employees to $946 million since our giving program started in 1983.

  • Xbox 360 Maintains Lead in U.S. Console Market in January, Ends 2011 as No. 1 Console Worldwide

    Kicking off 2012, Xbox 360 continues to lead the console market, turning in another month as the best-selling console in the U.S.

    NPD highlights from January include:

    · Xbox 360 sold more than 270,000 units in January, maintaining the number-one console spot in the U.S. This marks the thirteenth straight month Xbox 360 was the top-selling console in the U.S.

    · Holding a 49 percent share of current-generation console sales, total retail spend on the Xbox 360 platform in January (hardware, software and accessories) reached $301 million, the most for any console in the U.S. This marks the eleventh consecutive month Xbox 360 has held more than 40 percent of the current-generation console market share.

  • Weekend Reading: Feb. 10th Edition–Xbox 360 Stays No. 1 in the U.S., Pink Flamingos Help Microsoft Employees Raise $100M for Nonprofits, plus Safer Internet Day & the Kinect Star Wars Bundle

    In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on Xbox 360 ending 2011 as the number-one selling console in the world, a record breaking year for Microsoft’s Employee Giving Campaign, Safer Internet Day and a super-duper cool slideshow on a slew of new thin Windows 7 laptops.

    Xbox 360 maintains lead in U.S. console market in January. Kicking off 2012, Xbox 360 continues to lead the console market, turning in another month as the best-selling console in the U.S. Just last week, Xbox 360 was revealed as the number-one selling console worldwide in 2011, according to publicly disclosed financial data from Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. Read this Thursday post on The Official Microsoft Blog for the rest of the story. And don’t forget that on April 3, the Kinect Star Wars bundle and game will be released – Xbox LIVE’s Major Nelson has more on that on his blog. Below is a screenshot of the R2D2-inspired limited edition console:

    hardware_xbox-starwars_page

  • The Midweek Download: Feb. 15th Edition–Windows on ARM, a MSFT Engineer is Named to the NAE, plus Windows Server, IE10 & Caradigm

    In this edition of The Midweek Download, we’ve stories on Windows on ARM, a distinguished Microsoft engineer named to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, a profile on members of the Windows Server team and much more.

    Building Windows for the ARM processor architecture. This Feb. 9 post on Building Windows 8 (penned by Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live Division) is about the technical foundation of what we call, for the purposes of this post, Windows on ARM, or WOA. WOA is a new member of the Windows family, much like Windows Server, Windows Embedded, or Windows Phone. As with those products, WOA builds on the foundation of Windows, has a very high degree of commonality and very significant shared code with Windows 8, and will be developed for, sold, and supported as part of the largest computing ecosystem in the world. Don’t miss it! Also, check out this Tuesday post on enabling accessibility in Windows 8.

    Microsoft engineer named to U.S. NAE. One of the singular advantages of working for Microsoft—and for Microsoft Research, in particular—is the opportunity to work on products and technologies that have a positive influence on multitudes worldwide. Henrique Malvar, Microsoft distinguished engineer and chief scientist at Microsoft Research, knows that all too well—as do his peers. On Feb. 9, the U.S. National Academy of Engineering (NAE) announced that Malvar (pictured below) had been elected as a member of that prestigious group. Read this Feb. 10 post on Inside Microsoft Research for the whole story.

    Malvar - Microsoft Distinguished Engineer

  • Weekend Reading: Feb. 17th Edition–Find Out What’s Trending on msnNOW, See the New Facebook and Carbon Social Apps for Windows Phone, plus Hotmail, Microsoft Research & Xbox 360

    In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got the scoop on the launch of msnNOW, a new and improved Facebook app for Windows Phone and a new Microsoft Research project called Layerscape.

    MSN launches msnNOW to keep you in the know. Ever feel like you have to jump from site to site in order to piece together what’s happening in the world? Good news for those who like to stay up-to-date on the latest trends — msnNOW, a new service from MSN at now.msn.com, will help you stay in the know. msnNOW is the first service to surface the latest buzz from Facebook, Twitter, Bing and BreakingNews.com, all in one place. It cuts through the clutter of the Web, providing an up-to-the-minute view of breaking trends and the hottest social conversations, what people are saying about them, and why they matter. For more on this story, read this feature story and this press release on the Microsoft News Center and this Wednesday post on The MSN Blog. Watch the video below to get a look at the technology, people and passion behind msnNOW:

  • Poll: What is the Coolest Feature on msnNOW?

    Last week, Microsoft launched msnNOW, a new service from MSN at now.msn.com, created to help you stay in the know. msnNOW is the first service to surface the latest buzz from Facebook, Twitter, Bing and BreakingNews.com, all in one place.

    Obviously, we here at Microsoft think it’s pretty cool, but we’d like to know which features of msnNOW readers like the most.

  • The Midweek Download: Feb. 22nd Edition–Three from Building Windows 8, the Windows Logo Re-Designed, plus Windows Phone, Dynamics CRM & Internet Explorer

    In this edition of The Midweek Download, we’ve got stories from Building Windows 8, the re-designed Windows logo, Windows Phone evangelists, Microsoft Dynamics CRM and more. Check ‘em out!

    Three from Building Windows 8. If you can’t get enough news on Windows 8, check out these three new posts from Building Windows 8 – reliably measuring browser performance, SkyDrive and Windows 8 and using the language you want on Windows 8. Don’t miss ‘em!

    The Windows logo redesigned. We have said that Windows 8 is a complete reimagination of the Windows operating system. Nothing has been left unexplored, including the Windows logo, to evaluate how it held up to modern PC sensibilities. The Windows logo is a strong and widely recognized mark, but when we stepped back and analyzed it, we realized an evolution of our logo would better reflect our Metro style design principles and we also felt there was an opportunity to reconnect with some of the powerful characteristics of previous incarnations. To get the rest of this story, read this Feb. 17 post on Blogging Windows. Below is a screenshot of the new logo:

    Windows 8 Logo

  • Weekend Reading: Feb. 24th Edition–Bing Launches Linked Pages, Microsoft Adds a New Board Member, plus a Windows Phone App to Satisfy Your Pinterest Addiction

    In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories about Bing’s Linked Pages, a new Microsoft board member and Pinspiration, a Windows Phone app that can help satisfy your Pinterest addiction.

    Make a good search impression with Bing’s Linked Pages. With people search being such a high volume pastime, we're taking it a step further by letting you have more control in how you show up on Bing. Beginning today, with Linked Pages, we’re letting you link websites related to you in search results. Now, your friends looking for you online can find what you want them to find. You can also link pages to your friends to help them shine on Bing as well. Read this Wednesday post on The Bing Search Blog for the rest of the story. Below is a screenshot of Bing Linked Pages:

    Bing Linked Pages

  • Microsoft Drives Cloud Innovation in Tourism with the UN World Tourism Organization

    Today in Madrid, we announced an agreement with the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) through which we will help drive technology adoption, particularly focused on cloud computing, for the tourism industry.

    This deal will benefit the 155 UNWTO member countries and the more than 400 affiliate members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities, by helping them apply cloud technologies to improve business efficiency and innovation.

    Maria Garaña Corces, General Manager of Microsoft Spain; Marcio Favilla Lucca de Paula, Executive Director for Competitiveness, External Relations & Partnership, the UN WTO and Jean-Philippe Courtois, president of Microsoft International at today’s press conference in Madrid.
  • Trustworthy Computing Next: Building Trust in a Connected World

    From the beginning, Trustworthy Computing’s mission was billed as a long-term journey. As Microsoft marked the 10-year milestone of TwC last month, we also looked forward and recognized that evolving IT models and societal changes have made the relentless pursuit of TwC more important than ever. Today at the RSA Conference 2012, I’m providing my vision for Trustworthy Computing Next within a keynote and sharing a new white paper.

    There are three major forces of change. First, with a proliferation of devices, services, and sensors, people are excited about the potential of the cloud and big data. Organizations in both the public and private sectors are racing to provide computer users new features and capabilities. Big data unlocks enormous potential, from more effective health care to better business analytics. And while big data may also provide new insights into the reliability and security of our IT ecosystem, the uses of big data will also raise important privacy questions, particularly as we seek to balance the potential benefits of big data with the risks to both society and the individual.

  • The Midweek Download: Feb. 29th Edition–Microsoft Unveils the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, Craig Mundie Hosts TechForum 2012, plus Microsoft Research, Visual Studio 11 Beta & Windows Phone

    We’ve got a heavy duty edition of The Midweek Download for you today, with stories on the Windows 8 consumer preview, TechForum 2012, a Microsoft distinguished scientist being recognized by the Anita Borg Institute and more. Don’t miss any of them!

    Welcome to Windows 8 – the consumer preview. Today is a big day for the Windows team. At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, we unveiled the Windows 8 Consumer Preview to our partners and press. Based on a broad range of feedback, we have made over 100,000 code changes and the Consumer Preview represents a refined product ready for broad and daily usage by those of you willing to test a pre-release OS. You can download the Consumer Preview starting now at http://preview.windows.com. If you tried the Windows 8 Developer Preview, then you are going to be delighted to see a broad range of product changes and improvements based on feedback from many sources. For the rest of this story, read today’s post on Building Windows 8 from Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live Division. Check out the screenshot of the Windows 8 start screen below: