The Official Microsoft Blog

News & Perspectives

November, 2012

  • Tweets from Last Night: The Microsoft and Lucky Magazine Holiday Soiree

    Last night in New York City, Microsoft and Lucky Magazine hosted a holiday soiree that showcased the hottest tech gifts from Microsoft this holiday. Guests experienced Surface tablets, Windows 8 PCs, Windows Phones, hot titles for Xbox 360 and more holiday goodies. You can find information about all of these products at

    Here is what some of the attendees had to say, via Twitter:

    Kim Weling marveled at the Touch Cover for Surface


  • Weekend Reading: Nov. 30th Edition – Surface with Windows 8 Pro Pricing and Availability is Announced & Microsoft Pledges US$250 Million to Education

    In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got the latest details on Surface with Windows 8 Pro, Microsoft’s continued support for the Partners in Learning program, plus news on, Xbox 360 and more fun with Windows Phone 8.

    Next up for the Surface family: Surface with Windows 8 Pro pricing. It’s hard to believe it’s been just over a month since Surface with Windows RT hit the market. The response from Surface customers has been fantastic and exciting to see. In addition to sharing the terrific results that Microsoft is seeing with Windows 8 at a technology conference earlier this week, we also announced that Surface with Windows 8 Pro would be available in January 2013. On Thursday, Panos Panay, general manager of Microsoft Surface, shared a bit more detail on the Official Microsoft Blog about the growing Surface family of products and Surface with Windows 8 Pro pricing. Go here to read Panay’s full post.

    Eleven million educators and counting: Microsoft renews support for Partners in Learning program. On Thursday at the Partners in Learning Global Forum in Prague, in front of over 500 of the world’s most innovative educators, Corporate Vice President of Worldwide Public Sector Laura Ipsen announced an additional US$250 million in funding to extend Partners in Learning (PiL) over the next five years.

  • Next Up for the Surface Family: Surface with Windows 8 Pro – Pricing

    The following is a post from Panos Panay, General Manager of Microsoft Surface.

    It’s hard to believe it’s been just over a month since Surface with Windows RT hit the market. The response from Surface customers has been fantastic and exciting to see. In addition to sharing the terrific results that Microsoft is seeing with Windows 8 at a technology conference earlier this week, we also announced that Surface with Windows 8 Pro would be available in January 2013.

    Today, I want to share a bit more detail about the growing Surface family of products and Surface with Windows 8 Pro, specifically around pricing. In January, Surface with Windows 8 Pro will be available in two versions and pricing will start at $899:

    · 64GB standalone version at $899

    · 128GB standalone version at $999

    Both versions will both include a Surface pen with Palm Block technology and include the ability to use a Touch Cover or Type Cover (sold separately).

  • 11 Million Educators and Counting: Microsoft Renews Support for Partners in Learning Program

    The following is a blog post from Laura Ipsen, Corporate Vice President, Worldwide Public Sector.

    Laura Ipsen
    Laura Ipsen

    Earlier today at the Partners in Learning Global Forum in Prague, in front of over 500 of the world’s most innovative educators, I was thrilled to announce an additional US$250 million in funding to extend Partners in Learning (PiL) over the next five years.

    We’re renewing our pledge to Partners in Learning as a program that makes a valuable impact in the learning outcomes of hundreds of thousands of students around the world, honors a strong and growing community of educators, and underscores Microsoft’s long-term commitment to Education.  Along with Microsoft YouthSpark, PiL empowers youth to imagine and realize their full potential by connecting them with greater opportunities for education and helping them create a real impact for a better tomorrow. It’s a crucial investment in the millions of teachers who are shaping our collective future each and every day.

  • 12 Facts from our Shareholder Meeting Worth Knowing

    The following is a post by Frank Shaw, Corporate Vice President, Corporate Communications.

    Windows 8 start screen.

    Earlier this morning, we held our Shareholder Meeting here in Seattle.  As Shareholder Meeting goes, it was fairly uneventful.  But during his speech at the meeting, CEO Steve Ballmer shared some numbers and business updates that bear repeating and amplifying.  So as we near the end of calendar year ’12, here are 12 fast facts from Steve’s speech worth repeating.

  • The Midweek Download: Nov. 28th Edition – Windows Azure Active Directory: 200 Billion Served & Auto Plant Robots Run by Microsoft-based Intelligent System

    In this edition of The Midweek Download, Windows Azure Active Directory authentication service hits BIG milestone, how Microsoft technologies help Jeep Wranglers coming off the line, and Windows Phone developer tools keep rolling in.

    Windows Azure Active Directory processes 200 billion authentications connecting people, data and devices around the globe. At Microsoft, we have been on a transformative journey to cloud computing and we have been working with customers every step of the way. Millions of customers have embraced the cloud and we are excited to share the news that we’ve reached a major milestone in cloud scale computing. Since the inception of the authentication service on the Windows Azure platform in 2010, we have now processed 200 BILLION authentications for 50 MILLION active user accounts. If that number sounds big, you’re right. Check out the blog post where Windows Azure General Manager Bill Hilf breaks down the remarkable numbers going through Windows Azure Active Directory around the clock, around the globe.

  • Don’t Get Scroogled: Bing Launches Campaign for Honest Search to Help Shoppers this Holiday Season

    The following is a post by Mike Nichols, Corporate Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Bing.

    That Holiday Feeling

    Even after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you might walk the halls around your office at lunchtime and still find a lot of your colleagues shopping online for the holidays. 

    And they’ll be in good company.  This year, according to, online sales will jump 12 percent over last year to US$96 billion dollars this holiday season.  Because nearly half of all that online shopping will start from search engines, we wanted all consumers to understand exactly what happens when they use search to find those deals. 

    Specifically, we want to alert you to what Google has done with their shopping site right in time for Christmas.  Instead of showing you the most relevant shopping search results for the latest coffee maker you’re looking to buy mom, Google Shopping now decides what to show you – and how prominently to display what product offers they show -- based partially on how much the merchant selling the product has paid them. 

  • Daily Update, Nov. 27th – Giving Tuesday & Bing Top Searches of 2012

    Today is Giving Tuesday, a national initiative to give back during the holiday season. Microsoft is a founding partner of this day of giving, and today only, we’ll match any donation 1:1 on Give for Youth, a micro-giving site that makes it possible to fund and follow the dreams of young people around the world, up to a total of $100,000.

    In other news, the Bing team has released its always-entertaining look back at the year’s top searches. This year was filled with profound moments and moving stories, such as the Summer Games, the presidential election and Hurricane Sandy, among many others. From rising stars and newborn babies to celebrity scandals and natural disasters, explore the Bing top searches and reminisce about the biggest moments in 2012.

    Windows Phone enthusiasts will be excited to find that the Bing Translator app is now available on Windows Phone 8.

  • Daily Update, Nov. 26th – Get to Know Microsoft’s First Lady of Gaming

    Two stories out of Microsoft today:

    First: Are olives drenched in hot sauce the breakfast of champions? They are if you’re gaming champ Alex Hebert-Ruiz, a onetime top-10 ranked Halo player and one of the world’s most gifted gamers. Alex now works at Microsoft, where she advocates for Xbox LIVE Arcade games when she's not playing Halo 4. Read this Microsoft News Center profile of Alex to learn more about how her infectious enthusiasm for games and game culture carried her to her latest adventure at Microsoft. That's Alex to the left.

    Also, Microsoft has announced the first major update to Visual Studio 2012. The upgrade delivers improved Windows and SharePoint application development, agile team support and continuous quality enablement, all designed to help developers jumpstart productivity and drive down risk.

  • Daily Update, Nov. 21st – Check Out These Black Friday Deals from Microsoft!

    It’s that time of year again, and Microsoft’s got you covered in the gifts department!

    Get a head start on shopping this holiday season with some of the coolest tech around. For a limited time beginning 12 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 22, Microsoft retail stores and the online store are offering great deals on hot products. Whether you’re looking for a new Touch cover for your Surface, a new Xbox 360 console, games or productivity software, you’ll find a great deal for a loved one – or yourself. Check out all the deals and get further details. Or find a Microsoft store near you.


  • The Midweek Download: Nov. 21st Edition – Global Customers are Adopting Windows 8 and Windows Azure Is on a Roll

    In this edition of The Midweek Download, we’ve got stories on customers who are setting their businesses apart from the rest using Windows 8 and Windows 8 apps, some great Windows Phone developer tips, and Windows Azure SQL Database being named an Enterprise Cloud Database Leader by Forrester Research.

    European customers embrace Windows 8. During the past year we’ve been talking about what Windows 8 means for businesses. Now that Windows 8 is officially available across the globe, so many of our customers are seeing first-hand how Windows 8 can benefit their organizations. Last Wednesday, Windows Commercial Senior Director of Business Planning Erwin Visser reported from Europe where he heard from several businesses using Windows 8. In this Nov. 13 Windows for your Business post, Erwin highlights a few favorite Windows 8 business adoption stories from Europe. And don’t miss Erwin’s post from Dubai from Monday, featuring Emirates airline.

    Windows Azure SQL Database named an Enterprise Cloud Database Leader by Forrester Research. In the latest in a series of Windows Azure good news, Forrester Research Inc. has positioned Microsoft as a Leader in The Forrester Wave: Enterprise Cloud Databases, Q4 2012. In the report posted here, Microsoft received the highest scores of any vendor in Current Offering and Market Presence.

  • Daily Update, Nov. 20th – Microsoft Research Hires Leading Computer Scientist

    One big story out of Microsoft today:

    Dr. Jeannette Wing will join Microsoft Research as vice president, head of Microsoft Research International, reporting to Chief Research Officer Rick Rashid. Wing is a leading figure in computer science research, particularly in formal methods, security and privacy. She has held key positions in both academia and government, most recently at Carnegie Mellon University and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

  • Daily Update, Nov. 19th – Emirates Airline Announces New Windows 8 Business App

    Two stories for you today out of Microsoft:

    First, Emirates, one of the fastest-growing airlines in the world, announced today at the Windows 8 launch event in Dubai the development of a line-of-business application for Windows 8 called Knowledge Driven Inflight Service (KIS). An in-flight communication and customer relationship management device first introduced by Emirates for its pursers in 2004, the KIS application will now run on the soon-to-be-launched HP ElitePad 900 business tablets and will enable Emirates to continue to deliver extraordinary customer service and experiences. You can also read more about the news over on the Windows for Your Business Blog.

    Also, Microsoft is excited to announce its research and development of the first zero carbon data center - called the Data Plant - that will be completely independent of the grid and will recycle common waste bi-products to sustainably power cloud services.

  • Daily Update, Nov. 16th – Attention Developers! New .NET & Windows Phone SDKs for SkyDrive

    Just under a year ago, we unveiled a set of SkyDrive APIs that made it easy for developers on modern mobile platforms to provide their users with the ability to access their SkyDrive content in their favorite apps. And since then, we’ve been working at how we could continue to make this easy for more and more developers – so we added client-side SDKs targeting Windows 8, Windows Phone, JavaScript Web library, iOS and Android as well as made several enhancement to our REST APIs by removing file extension restrictions and also letting you upload full resolution pictures. Today, we are excited to announce the availability of new SDKs for .NET and Windows Phone 8 that are available at Get the whole story over on Inside SkyDrive.

    Also, we’re back again today with another of our favorite ways to experience Bing on Windows 8: The Sports App. The Sports app is your sports companion.

  • Weekend Reading: Nov. 16th Edition – Shop the Holiday Look Book & Pick Up Your Windows Phone 8 Device Today

    In this edition of Weekend Reading, Microsoft releases its interactive Holiday Look Book, where to get your hands on a Windows Phone 8 device now, plus Jessica Alba and Gwen Stefani share their Windows Phone 8 Start screen.

    The Microsoft 2012 Holiday Look Book. Kick off your holiday shopping with the 2012 Holiday Look Book, a shareable, shoppable, touch-enabled gift guide, featuring a collection of top products from Microsoft and its partners. Inspiration for each of the scenes within the Look Book came from conversations with product designers themselves, giving you a never before seen view of the hottest tech products of the season. See exclusive images of Halo 4, the Nokia Lumia 920, the Wedge Touch Mouse and more in the 2012 Holiday Lookbook.

    Look Book

  • Daily Update, Nov. 15th – Celebrating a Decade of Xbox LIVE

    It’s a busy, busy day here at Microsoft!

    First, today we mark the tenth anniversary of the launch of Xbox LIVE, defined at the time as "the first comprehensive, online game arena fully dedicated to fast-action broadband gaming experiences." Since then Xbox LIVE has evolved to become Microsoft’s premier entertainment service for the TV, phone, PC and tablet. Initially available to U.S. and Canadian Xbox players, the service is now available in 41 countries and territories around the world. The 10-year journey has been long, but Xbox continually updated Xbox LIVE to add new gaming and entertainment experiences and services to the console for its members. Below, at the Xbox 360: Zero Hour launch event in November 2005, thousands of gamers from around the world witnessed the dawning of the next generation of gaming. Xbox LIVE membership would grow from about 2 million to today's 40 million members.


  • Daily Update, Nov. 14th – HTC’s Windows Phone 8X & the Nokia Lumia 810 Come to T-Mobile

    Big news on the Windows Phone front today.

    The Windows Phone Blog is reporting that HTC’s Windows Phone 8X and the Nokia Lumia 810 are now available to T-Mobile USA customers. Head on over to the blog to find out more. That's HTC's Windows Phone 8X to the right.

    Also, the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA), in coordination with Microsoft, today released the results of a new survey of health and human services departments and agencies nationwide.

  • The Midweek Download: Nov. 14 Edition – Social Media in the Enterprise & HTML5 on Windows Phone 8

    In this edition of The Midweek Download, we’ve got stories on how Office, SharePoint and Yammer will transform the way we work, Internet Explorer 10 bringing HTML5 to Windows Phone 8, and how this year’s Imagine Cup winner has won again.

    Putting social to work. This week in Las Vegas, Microsoft hosts the SharePoint Conference and Jared Spataro, senior director of the Office Division, helped kick off the event with a guest post on The Official Microsoft Blog. Jared writes about the growing role social media is playing in business and how Yammer, SharePoint and Office 365 are coming together to offer a powerful, secure and integrated approach to social collaboration for businesses large and small. You can find more SharePoint news over on the Microsoft News Center.

    The new SharePoint bets big on social, mobile, cloud. SharePoint news continues on the Office News blog, which announced that collaboration and social technologies are fundamentally changing the way people and teams work, and as we celebrate this pivotal release of SharePoint, we are humbled to announce that the product has reached more than US$2 billion in annual revenue.

  • Daily Update, Nov. 13th – Steve Ballmer Takes the Windows 8 & Windows Phone 8 Story on the Road

    Two stories out of Microsoft today:

    Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer last week took Microsoft's wave of new products on the road, visiting Europe and Israel. In speeches to students in Moscow, tech start-ups in Israel, customers in London, developers in Berlin, and partners in Paris, Ballmer highlighted how Microsoft delivers highly personalized experiences on Windows 8 devices and Windows Phone 8. Below, Ballmer joined Nokia President and CEO Stephen Elop on stage to launch Lumia 820 and Lumia 920 in Moscow.

    Windows 8 is "the best version of Windows ever built," Ballmer said.

  • Atten-hut! U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs Marches to the Cloud with Office 365

    The following is a post from Frank X. Shaw, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of Corporate Communications, highlighting some of Microsoft’s recent cloud customer wins with Office 365.

    We’ve been kind of busy lately. With all of our recent news around Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Microsoft Surface, Xbox LIVE and Halo 4, several big-time customer wins for Office 365 may have flown under your radar. 

    Today’s news that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will deploy Office 365 for Government with Hewlett-Packard to 15,000 of its employees (expanding later to up to 600,000 employees agencywide) is just the latest evidence that our cloud-based productivity offering has gained significant traction. If you don’t believe me, you can read more about some of the gains we’ve made against the competition here. :)

    The deployment of Office 365 by the Department of Veterans Affairs is merely the latest chapter in Microsoft’s burgeoning cloud services story. In early August, luxury audio and video systems maker Bang & Olufsen adopted Microsoft Office 365 to unify its e-mail, calendaring, collaboration and communication. Later that month, the County of Santa Clara, Calif. did the same for 15,000 employees.

  • Daily Update, Nov. 12th – Install the Skype for Windows Phone 8 Preview Today

    Two weeks ago, we announced that we were working hard on Skype for Windows Phone 8. Just like our bold new experience for Windows 8, the new Skype for Windows Phone will be fast, modern, and beautiful, while still delivering the best of what you've come to expect from Skype.

  • Putting Social to Work

    The following is a post by Jared Spataro, senior director, Office Division, on the growing role social media is playing in business and how Yammer, SharePoint and Office 365 are coming together to offer a powerful, secure and integrated approach to social collaboration for businesses large and small.

    This week we're hosting the SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas, and one of the key themes is social.  While we had more than ten thousand people attend the keynote, I wanted to take the opportunity to share my thoughts on social for those who didn't have a chance to join us in person.

    Business Value

    Social has clearly rewired the way we communicate in our personal lives, and there are folks out there claiming that it will do the same for business.  I've come to believe that it will have a profound impact on the way people get things done at work. 

    To understand why, consider the basic premise of the technology: open conversations and personal connections.  In a world where the pace of innovation has increased dramatically over the last few decades, the name of the game is agility.

  • Weekend Reading: Nov. 9th Edition – Apps for PCs and Windows Phone 8, Windows Phone 8 Preorders Begin

    In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on apps – find ‘em, get ‘em, build ‘em – including new favorites for Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8, plus a peek behind the scenes of a Microsoft Store opening.

    AT&T sales begin today, Verizon Wireless taking preorders now. Great news for AT&T and Verizon Wireless subscribers: AT&T announced that the Nokia Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 devices would be available starting today, and Verizon announced yesterday that it is taking preorders for the Windows Phone 8X by HTC and the Nokia Lumia 822 starting today at 1 a.m. EST. That was a few hours ago, so go here to snag your shiny new Windows Phone.  For details and links, head over to the Windows Phone Blog.

    May the birds be with you: Angry Birds Star Wars is now in the Store. First Cut the Rope, then Angry Birds Space released for Windows Phone 8. Now Rovio’s highly-anticipated mash up between pigs and Princess Leia, has launched worldwide—including for Windows Phone 8.  Angry Birds Star Wars, which costs 99 cents in the Store and requires Windows Phone 8, reimagines Angry Birds characters as the Star Wars cast, with a storyline straight from the beloved space opera—from the deserts of Tatooine to the depths of the Pig Star. Your task: Dodge Imperial Pigtroopers, laser turrets, sand people, and the dark side the Force on the way to the ultimate showdown against Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Pigs. Check out the fun trailer below that Rovio created for a taste, and see what else is in store at the Windows Phone Blog.

  • Xbox 360 Leads U.S. Console Market for 22nd Consecutive Month

    In October, Xbox 360 maintained its lead in the U.S. console market – marking the 22nd consecutive month as the top-selling console.

    October 2012 U.S. NPD highlights include:

    · Xbox 360 sold 270,000 units in October, more units than any other console, and held 56 percent share of current-generation console sales in the U.S. This marks the 20th consecutive month that Xbox 360 has held more than a 40 percent share of current-generation console sales in the U.S.

    · Total retail spend on the Xbox 360 platform in October (hardware, software and accessories) reached $315 million. Consumers spent more on Xbox 360 products in October than they spent on the other two current-generation consoles combined.

  • Daily Update, Nov. 8th – Introducing Skype in the Workspace

    Two stories out of Microsoft today:

    Skype today launched to the public Skype in the workspace (SITW), a new online platform for small businesses to instantly connect with potential customers, partners and suppliers across the globe. The free-to-use tool makes use of the huge network already offered by Skype, allowing millions of small businesses to promote their products and services to new networks and connections. You can read more about it over on The Big Blog.