The Official Microsoft Blog

News & Perspectives

January, 2013

  • Daily Update, Jan. 31st – Microsoft Introduces modern.IE Tools & Resources for Developers

    We’ve got three big stories out of Microsoft today from the Internet Explorer team, Bing and Server and Tools. Check ‘em out:

    First, today we are introducing modern.IE, a free set of tools and resources designed to make it easier for developers to ensure their sites work beautifully across Internet Explorer as well as other modern browsers. As part of the modern.IE release, we’re excited to announce a special partnership with BrowserStack, a leading browser testing service that lets developers test their site on any browser on any Windows OS. For any web developer that visits BrowserStack via modern.IE, we’re offering three months of this service for free over the next year. Head on over to the Exploring IE Blog for the rest of the story and be sure to watch the video below.

  • Daily Update, Jan. 30th – Cross Platform Game ‘Skulls of Shogun’ Available Today for Download

    Two big stories out of Microsoft today:

    First, with the new game “Skulls of the Shogun,” players can do something new: Switch back and forth between all of their Microsoft devices as they bounce from battle scene to battle scene. The game, released today, is the first to reach all Microsoft platforms. “Skulls of the Shogun” can be downloaded and played on Xbox 360 via the Xbox LIVE Arcade, and on Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 devices. Check out this feature story over on the Microsoft News Center for more detail.

    Skulls of Shogun

  • Binary Diffusion

    The following is a post from Frank X. Shaw, Corporate Vice President of Corporate Communications at Microsoft.

    The digital world is binary. It’s a zero or a one, the switch is on or it’s off.

    There are times when I think the industry dialogue is deeply influenced by this binary nature, and sometimes can be overly black and white. So often, in their rush to declare one era over and a new one begun, the pundits overlook the nuances that really matter in a world that isn’t as black-and-white as it might seem.

    Seldom are there stark endings and new beginnings – it’s more likely an evolution from one phase to the next. I’m reminded of Malcolm Gladwell’s wonderful article a couple of years ago in The New Yorker, Creation Myth. In it, he traces the origins of the computer mouse from Doug Engelbart’s original concept in the mid-sixties, to Xerox PARC and then Apple. “If you lined up Engelbart’s mouse, Xerox’s mouse, and Apple’s mouse, you would not see the serial reproduction of an object. You would see the evolution of a concept.”

    That’s why I especially enjoyed ars technica’s headline after our earnings report last Thursday: Microsoft fails to notice the death of the PC, posts record revenue figures instead.

  • The Midweek Download: Jan. 30th Edition – How to Build Stellar Windows Phone Apps

    In this edition of The Midweek Download, we’ve got stories on building high-performance Windows Phone apps, winning apps from the Mobile Code Jam Challenge at CCNC 2013, plus new support to help get your Windows Store apps certified.

    Building high-performance Windows Phone apps. Mobile phone users expect the apps running on their phones to perform well at all times and be of super quality. A slow startup or a jerky UI is an absolute no. If playing a game or watching a video completely drains the phone’s battery, users will be very cautious about using that game or app again. To help ensure that your app meets users’ expectations, there’s a new tool you should become familiar with in the Windows Phone SDK 8.0 – Application Monitoring. The image below shows a detailed performance analysis summary of a sample app. To see how to use application monitoring in your apps, head over to the Jan. 25 post on the Windows Phone Developer blog.

    Mobile Code Jam rocks Vegas. Top headliners on the Las Vegas strip might include Celine Dion, Penn and Teller, and Carrot Top, but from our perspective, they’ve got nothing on the Vegas premiers of such CCNC Mobile Code Jam stars as BlueWay and Fling-It.

  • Office 365: The Next Bold Step

    The following is a post from Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer.

    In October 2012, I wrote a letter to shareholders outlining how the full value of our software will be seen and felt in how people use devices and services at work and in their personal lives. This is a fundamental shift in our business that began several years ago and continues today with the release of Office 365 Home Premium. This is a brand new Office never experienced before.

    For the first time, consumers can subscribe to Office as a service instead of purchasing Office as a piece of software to install. The new Office subscription is an entirely new way to think about the productivity experience with entirely new benefits. Over time, the majority of the billion plus people using Office will be using the Office 365 service.

    Office 365 Home Premium subscribers receive all the full-featured Office applications they know and love, together with impressive new cloud and social benefits built in.

  • Daily Update, Jan. 25th – Bing Search Blog Kicks off “Bing Your Brain” Series

    Today, the Bing team kicked off an interesting new series over on The Bing Search Blog called “Bing Your Brain.”

    “Bing Your Brain” will be written by Matt Wallaert, a behavioral scientist on the Bing team who works “at the intersection of psychology and technology.”

    In his first post, Matt tackles the topic of “choice overload”.

  • Weekend Reading: Jan. 25th Edition – The Samsung ATIV Odyssey & Nokia Lumia 822 Arrive at Verizon

    In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on the Samsung ATIV Odyssey and red-hot Nokia Lumia 822 from Verizon, the Feb. 9 arrival of Surface Windows 8 Pro, plus photography apps that will make you love your Windows Phone even more.

    Samsung ATIV Odyssey arrives at Verizon. Plus: A Lumia for Valentine’s Day. Sweet news for Verizon Wireless subscribers: As of yesterday, you have two more great and affordable Windows Phones to choose from. As promised, the Samsung ATIV Odyssey made its much-awaited debut. Buy it here. The third Windows Phone 8 model in the company’s 4G LTE lineup runs $49.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate and new two-year contact. It features a 4-inch 800x480 Super AMOLED display, 5-megapixel rear camera with full 1080p recording and playback capability, 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera, 1.5GHz dual-core processor, and 2100mAh battery. And to further sweeten the pot, Verizon also started selling a flashy red Nokia Lumia 822, pictured at right below. Get all the details in yesterday’s post on the Windows Phone Blog and watch the video below.

  • Daily Update, Jan. 23rd – Bing Sports App for Windows 8 Adds College Football & Basketball, MotoGP & More Soccer

    Bringing you the best content from world of sports including the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, MLS, Formula 1 and more, The Sports app for Windows 8 is your personal sports companion. Today, we are pleased to add NCAA Men’s Basketball, NCAA Football, MotoGP and 17 global additional soccer leagues to the app. With the additions, you can easily personalize the experience so you can track your favorite teams and leagues with the tap of a finger. Head on over to the Bing Search Blog for the whole story.

    Windows 8 Sports App

  • Microsoft and Data Privacy Day: Helping You Take Control

    The following is a post from Brendon Lynch, Chief Privacy Officer at Microsoft.

    Privacy is increasingly top of mind for people around the world as online activities have become a central part of daily life.

    To mark Data Privacy Day 2013, Microsoft commissioned research to better understand people’s online privacy perceptions and expectations. The results of this new research show:

    • 45 percent of respondents said they feel they have little or no control over the personal information companies gather about them while they are browsing the Web or using online services, such as photo-sharing, travel or gaming.
    • Only four in 10 said they feel they totally or mostly understand how to protect their online privacy.
    • An equal number of people (39 percent) said they are turning to friends and family, as well as privacy statements, as their top source for privacy information.
    • A third of those surveyed (32 percent) said they are paying attention to companies’ privacy reputations, track records, and policies when choosing which websites to visit or services to use.

    What exactly do these findings mean and how can they be put to use? We already know our customers want and expect strong privacy protections to be built into our products, devices and services, and for companies to be responsible stewards of consumers’ data. We’ve been focused on this area for more than 10 years as part of Trustworthy Computing at Microsoft.

  • The Midweek Download: Jan. 23rd Edition – Eight Tips for Designing Windows Phone Apps

    In this edition of The Midweek Download, we’ve got stories on the latest release of Try F#, the Windows Startup Challenge, plus how to design, optimize and submit your Windows Phone apps – tools and tips you’ll want to use.

    Eight tips for designing Windows Phone apps. As part of the "App to the future" challenge, we’ve conducted Lightning Design Review sessions for a few weeks, and one thing struck Windows Phone Product Marketing Director JC Cimetiere as he was watching: review after review, he could clearly identify some recurring patterns. So Cimetiere asked Senior Interactive Designer, Lincoln Anderson, who hosts the reviews, to analyze common issues he sees and write down the top eight design tips for Windows Phone. To see what they came up with, head over to the Jan. 18 post on the Windows Phone Developer Blog. While you’re there, learn how to make your apps battery-friendly in this Jan. 17 post on Optimizing Battery Consumption of Windows Phone Applications.

    Try F#—data console to big and broad data. Yesterday, we announced the latest release of Try F#, a set of resources that makes it easy to learn and program with F# in your browser. It’s available over a wide range of platforms and doesn’t require a download of Microsoft Visual Studio. Try F# quickly reveals the value of the versatile F# programming language. Try F# enables users to learn F# through new tutorials that focus on solving real-world problems, including analytical programming quandaries of the sort that are encountered in finance and data science.

  • Daily Update, Jan. 22nd – Learn How to Program in F#

    Today, we are excited to announce the latest release of Try F#, a set of resources that makes it easy to learn and program with F# in your browser. It’s available over a wide range of platforms and doesn’t require a download of Microsoft Visual Studio. Try F# quickly reveals the value of the versatile F# programming language.

    Read more about it over on the Microsoft Research Connections Blog.

  • Growing the Surface Family: Surface Windows 8 Pro Availability Confirmed

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

    Ever since we launched Surface Windows RT late last year, it’s been exciting to see the ongoing customer response to this amazing device. We are also pumped about all the anticipation and excitement in regards to Surface Windows 8 Pro. There have been a tremendous amount of questions to date, and today, I am pleased that we are formally announcing the date of availability. Surface Windows 8 Pro will be available in the U.S. and Canada starting on Feb. 9 through all Microsoft retail stores, and at Staples and Best Buy in the U.S. as well as from a number of locations in Canada. Not only has it been fun watching the anticipation, it has been great working with such an amazing team to bring these products to life.

    Powered by an Intel Core i5 processor, Surface Windows 8 Pro provides the power and performance of a laptop in a tablet package and will run all Windows 8 applications as well as current Windows 7 desktop applications. Last month, we announced Surface Windows 8 Pro pricing starting at $899 and that it will be available in 64 GB and 128 GB models. A Surface Pen is included and makes for an amazing experience for writers, graphic designers or even engineers, and with Palm Block technology writing and drawing is fun for everyone on Surface Windows 8 Pro.


  • Weekend Reading: Jan. 18th Edition – 'Spartan Ops' Continues, Bing Dials Up the Social in Search & More

    In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on Bing bringing your friends’ two cents to search results, the highly anticipated return of Spartan Ops Season 1 and the new Priceline Express Deals app for Windows Phone.

    The second half of Spartan Ops Season 1 returns on Jan. 21! That’s Monday, for those of you that don’t have a calendar in your immediate line of sight. To make sure you’re ready for the awesomeness that is episodes 6-10, the Halo team made a few different recap options of episodes 1-5. So press play on the (brand new!) video below if you prefer electronically captured information, and check out the Spartan Ops Season 1 stats in Wednesday’s release of The Halo Bulletin if you have a thing for numbers. Here’s a teaser stat for you: 8,125,908 games were played in Spartan Ops Matchmaking in the first two months.

  • Daily Update, Jan. 17th – Bing Expands Social Search & Lady Gaga Chats With Fans on Skype

    One of the advantages of searching with Bing is the ability to tap into the wisdom of friends and experts in the social sidebar, and starting today you will see an average of five times more Facebook content in the sidebar, including status updates, shared links, comments and photos from your friends. Bing is the only search engine where you can find relevant search results along with the people who can help you make a decision — so you can spend more time doing and less time searching.

    To learn more about Bing’s social updates, read today’s Search Blog post from Bing Corporate Vice President Derrick O’Connell, check out the video demo below and head over to to experience the benefits of social search.

  • Daily Update, Jan. 16th – New Mobile App Helps You Stay Connected During a Natural Disaster

    Today Microsoft announced the launch of HelpBridge, a new mobile app that enables you to get help, give help and stay connected with loved ones in the event of a natural disaster.

    HelpBridge simplifies the process of contacting your family and friends in an emergency by simultaneously sending an e-mail and SMS to the communities you select as well as posting a message to your Facebook wall. You can even include your GPS coordinates so that message recipients will know where you are and the circumstances surrounding you.

  • The Midweek Download: Jan. 16th Edition – Delivering on the Cloud OS & the ‘Next App Star’ Contest Kicks Off

    In this edition of The Midweek Download, we’ve got stories on the Cloud OS and the opportunity it brings enterprise customers and IT managers, retailers connecting with customers using Windows 8 apps, plus a shot at seeing your app featured in a Windows Phone TV ad through the Next App Star contest.

    What is the Cloud OS? “We all know change is constant, especially in technology,” says Corporate Vice President of Marketing for Server & Tools Michael Park in his guest post on The Official Microsoft Blog. “Managing through change is always a challenge, but over the past 20 years I’ve found it to be one of the most rewarding aspects of my career in the tech industry,” Park adds. During the past six months Parks has been talking to IT executives and partners about the big changes and trends in enterprise IT, such as the various cloud computing models, the consumerization of IT, the new generation of connected applications and big data. Yesterday, Microsoft announced several new products and services that deliver against the Cloud OS. Read all about them in yesterday’s edition of The Official Microsoft Blog and in this Microsoft News Center press release.

    Retailers reach more customers with Windows 8. This week, Microsoft is at the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) annual conference in New York City demonstrating how Windows 8 apps and devices are helping transform the way retailers do business.

  • Daily Update, Jan. 15th – Office 365 Helps Retailers Take Care of Business

    The National Retail Foundation (NRF) Annual Convention & EXPO continues today in New York City, where Microsoft is showcasing how its technology helps retailers enhance and personalize the shopping experience while operating more efficiently and effectively.

    Matthew Gaines, director of technology at sandwich company ‘wichcraft, shares an excellent example in his guest post on the Office 365 blog today.

  • What is the Cloud OS?

    The following is a post from Michael Park, Corporate Vice President of Marketing in the Server & Tools Business at Microsoft.

    We all know change is constant, especially in technology. Managing through change is always a challenge, but over the past 20 years I’ve found it to be one of the most rewarding aspects of my career in the tech industry.

    During the past six months I’ve been talking to IT executives and partners about the big changes and trends in enterprise IT, such as the various cloud computing models, the consumerization of IT, the new generation of connected applications and big data. I’ve shared with them our vision of what we call the Cloud OS and the feedback has been very positive. They see it as a differentiated approach from Microsoft that will help them embrace the transformational changes happening now. Today, Microsoft announced several new products and services that deliver against the Cloud OS, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to further explain it to readers of this blog.

  • Daily Update, Jan. 14th – Microsoft Showcases ‘The Future of Retail Today’ at National Retail Federation Annual Convention & EXPO

    This week brings the National Retail Federation (NRF) 102nd Annual Convention & EXPO to New York City, where Microsoft is highlighting how its technologies and broad ecosystem of partner solutions help retailers deliver personalized, seamless and differentiated shopping experiences for their customers.

    A post today on the Next at Microsoft blog features exciting examples like Swivel, a 3-D dressing room from FaceCake Marketing Technologies that uses Windows Embedded and Kinect for Windows to allow shoppers to try on clothes virtually.

  • Weekend Reading: Jan. 11th Edition – Huawei Introduces Windows Phone 8 Device at CES & ‘Indie’ Game App Developers Light Up Windows Phone

    In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on Huawei joining the Windows Phone 8 family, great Windows Phone apps for gamers and snow junkies, plus some Oscar-worthy apps to help you get through awards season.

    Natural User Interfaces part 4: what’s next? Yesterday, Next at Microsoft Editor Steve Clayton shared his final post on NUI. It goes beyond Kinect and explains why NUI is much more than touch and gesture. You can watch some future scenarios play out in the Office Vision video below. To see some really facinating stuff, take a look at the post on Next at Microsoft and be sure to check out the first three parts of Clayton’s NUI series.

  • Xbox 360 Holds Top Console Spot for 24th Straight Month

    Xbox 360 ended 2012 as the best-selling console in the U.S. in 2013, selling 1.4 million units in December, according to the NPD Group.

  • Daily Update, Jan. 10th – Microsoft Hires Tech Entrepreneur Blake Krikorian, Introduces Skype 6.1 for Windows and More

    This morning, Microsoft announced the appointment of longtime technology entrepreneur Blake Krikorian as corporate vice president for its Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB), which includes the Xbox team. Krikorian will report to Marc Whitten, chief product officer for IEB. This announcement follows the acquisition of Krikorian’s company, id8 Group R2 Studios.

    Today also brings the launch of Skype 6.1 for Windows Desktop, now with Outlook integration and a visual update to the toolbar.

  • Daily Update, Jan. 9th – Retailer Tesco Gets Social With Office 365 and Microsoft Releases Skype for Windows Phone 8 Preview 2.1

    Tesco, one of the world’s leading retailers, has chosen Microsoft Office 365 for its companywide collaboration and social platform. The United Kingdom-based retailer is committed to deploying Office 365 to its employees working at the company’s headquarters, in the field and in stores, across all its locations in Europe and Asia. The Microsoft News Center has the whole story.

  • The Midweek Download: Jan. 9th Edition – 60M Windows 8 Licenses Sold

    In this edition of The Midweek Download, we’ve got stories on Windows 8 momentum, Windows Phone 8 app development and NUI. Check ‘em out!

    Windows 8 – 60M licenses sold. On Tuesday at the 11th Annual J.P. Morgan Tech Forum at CES 2013, Windows Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Financial Officer Tami Reller announced that Windows 8 has sold 60 million licenses to date. This represents the cumulative sales of Windows 8 including both upgrades and sales to OEMs for new devices. This is a similar sales trajectory that we saw with Windows 7. Head on over to Blogging Windows for the whole story.

    How to detect that your app is running in Kid’s Corner. In Windows Phone 8, Microsoft introduced the Kid’s Corner feature that lets parents configure a separate Start screen for their children and populate it with only the apps, games, and content that they feel is appropriate.

  • Daily Update, Jan. 8th – Helly Hansen Adopts Office 365 for Communications and Social Platform

    Two stories out of Microsoft this morning:

    First, Scandinavian outdoor brand, Helly Hansen, best known for apparel that is the optimal combination of purposeful design, protection and style, has chosen Microsoft Office 365 as its communication and social platform. A globally recognized brand, Helly Hansen sells its products on five continents. In addition, Helly Hansen operates 39 retail outlets in Europe and North America. The company is headquartered in Oslo, Norway, and its 350 full-time employees collaborate across offices in Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, China, Canada and the United States. Read more about it over on the Microsoft News Center.

    And second, at Microsoft, we want to help parents create a healthy computing environment for their kids. That’s why we set out to hear from parents about what matters most to them in helping young people stay safer online.