The Official Microsoft Blog

News & Perspectives

February, 2013

  • Toyota North America CIO Discusses Auto Giant’s Deployment of Office 365

    Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. Inc. and other affiliates in North America began the deployment of Microsoft Office 365-dedicated cloud services as their exclusive environment in June 2012. In Japan and other overseas affiliates, Toyota will leverage a hybrid model, with on-premises editions of Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Lync and Windows Server. This recent deployment represents an expansion of Toyota’s collaboration with Microsoft technologies. In April 2011, Toyota and Microsoft partnered to provide next-generation telematics services using the Windows Azure cloud platform.

    Recently, I had the chance to talk with Zack Hicks, Chief Information Officer at Toyota North America (pictured below), about the company’s deployment of Office 365.

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  • Weekend Reading: Feb. 1st Edition – Get Ready for the Big Game with Five Cool Sports Apps

    In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on sports apps for the big game on Windows 8, Windows Phone and Xbox, the release of Office 365 Home Premium and more.

    Game on: Five winning sports apps. Sunday’s football championship game is the first big adrenaline-rush sporting event of the year—but it’s far from the last. The NBA playoffs and the Stanley Cup finals are already just around the corner. And before you know it your favorite Major League Baseball team will be starting spring training. To help you get the most out of each game day, Microsoft and its partners have teamed up to provide a lineup of sports apps for Windows Phone, Xbox and Windows 8 devices that will satisfy even the most devoted and demanding fans. Head on over to the Microsoft News Center and check out this slideshow of apps for sports nuts everywhere. Below is a screenshot from the Sports App for Windows 8.

  • Daily Update, Feb. 4th – Let Bing Show You the Love This Valentine’s Day

    Tired of being let down on Valentine’s Day? You’re not alone. According to a recent survey from Bing and Impulse Research Corp., one in 10 people have ended a relationship on arguably the most romantic day of the year.

    This year, Bing is challenging people to reconsider their search habit and break up with Google. You wouldn’t keep dating someone who isn’t trustworthy, so why use a search engine known for serving its interests over your own? In fact, a whopping 85 percent of people report that trustworthiness is the most important trait in a mate, beating out good in bed, sense of humor and wealth.

  • More Microsoft Retail Stores to Come In 2013!

    The following is a post by Jonathan Adashek, General Manager, Communications Strategy, Sales & Marketing Services Group, Microsoft.


    Last month I posted about six new Microsoft retail store locations, and today I’m excited to announce that we will be adding five more stores by summer!

    Our five new retail stores will soon be found in:

    · Natick Mall, Natick, Massachusetts

    · Ala Moana Center, Honolulu, Hawaii

    · Pioneer Place, Portland, Oregon

    · The Somerset Collection, Troy, Michigan

    · Woodfield Mall, Schaumburg, Illinois

    Our customers continue to tell us that they value our stores for connecting them to the best of Microsoft. This delights us to no end. From the newest touchscreen laptops, desktops, and tablets running Windows 8, to Windows Phones, to Xbox and Kinect consoles and accessories, to a wide array of first and third-party software titles, our goal is to introduce you to the best choice, value and service we have to offer.

  • Daily Update, Feb. 5th – Microsoft’s New 4Afrika Initiative, Ways to Stay Safer Online and How to Bing Your Way to the Ultimate GRAMMYs experience

    Here’s your daily roundup of news from around the company:

    First, this morning Microsoft introduced the Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative, a new effort through which the company will actively engage in Africa’s economic development to improve its global competitiveness. By 2016, the 4Afrika Initiative plans to help place tens of millions of smart devices in the hands of African youth, bring 1 million African small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) online, upskill 100,000 members of Africa’s existing workforce and help an additional 100,000 recent graduates develop employability skills, 75 percent of whom Microsoft will help place in jobs. Learn more over on the 4Africa Web site.

    In other news, today is Safer Internet Day, and to mark the occasion Microsoft has released the results of its second annual Microsoft Computing Safety Index (MCSI), revealing that more than half (55 percent) of global respondents are experiencing multiple online risks, yet only 16 percent say they take multiple proactive steps to help protect themselves and their data. This year the MCSI also examined mobile safety behaviors, uncovering that although less than half of respondents (42 percent) run software updates on their personal computers, only 28 percent run regular updates on their mobile devices, potentially compounding their risk. Read the latest Microsoft on the Issues blog post to find out more about how you can stay safer online.

  • Microsoft and Symantec Take Down Bamital Botnet That Hijacks Online Searches

    The following is a post from Richard Domigues Boscovich, Assistant General Counsel, Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit.


    As reported by Reuters earlier today, the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit, in collaboration with Symantec, has taken down the dangerous Bamital botnet which hijacked people’s search results and took them to potentially dangerous websites that could install malware onto their computer, steal their personal information, or fraudulently charge businesses for online advertisement clicks. Microsoft and Symantec’s research shows that in the last two years, more than eight million computers have been attacked by Bamital, and that the botnet’s search hijacking and click fraud schemes affected many major search engines and browsers, including those offered by Microsoft, Yahoo and Google. Because this threat exploited the search and online advertising platform to harm innocent people, Microsoft and Symantec chose to take action against the Bamital botnet to help protect people and advance cloud security for everyone.

    Microsoft and Symantec are proactively informing people that their computers are infected with Bamital through the use of an official webpage that offers victims an easy to use method to remove the infection.

    While the Bamital botnet defrauded the entire online advertising platform, which is what allows the Internet and many online services to be free, what’s most concerning is that these cybercriminals made people go to sites that they never intended to go and took control of the computer away from its owner.

  • The Midweek Download: Feb. 6th Edition – How to Get Your App Promoted in the Windows Phone Store & Windows Phone 8 Welcomes Alipay in China

    In this edition of The Midweek Download, we’ve got stories on the growing Windows Phone 8 apps market reach in China, ways to expand your app’s visibility in the Windows Phone Store and Windows Azure news including a new sign-in experience and updated pricing for SQL Reporting Services.

    Windows Phone 8: first major smartphone OS to support Alipay in China. The Windows Phone team reports that Windows Phone 8 sales are beginning to ramp up in China, presenting developers with a huge reach and monetization opportunity. A wide array of Windows Phone 8 devices from Nokia, HTC and Huawei are now available for sale in China from a range of carrier and distribution partners, including China Mobile, the country’s largest carrier with over 710 million subscribers. A big aspect of this release is the introduction of new payment options available to customers in China. Find out what this means for app developers in Monday’s post of the Windows Phone Developer Blog, then check out Tips for localizing Windows Phone 8 XAML Apps.

    How to get your app promoted in the Windows Phone Store. Kami LeMonds, merchandising manager for the Windows Phone Store, says her team has the awesome job of selecting the apps we promote every day in the Windows Phone Stores across the globe. Many of you have inquired about how we select the apps we promote and how to get your app considered for promotion. Starting with their Jan. 31 post, LeMonds will be sharing with you on a regular basis our guiding principles (and a few of our secrets). This is especially important for those of you participating in the Windows Phone Next App Star contest, because these principles will be used to evaluate the quality of your apps, representing 50% of your overall assessment. See what three key areas the Windows Phone team is looking at in a Jan. 31 post on the Windows Phone Developer Blog.

    Simple, responsive sign-in to Microsoft services driven by Windows Azure AD. This winter, the Windows Azure AD team will launch a new sign-in experience across Office 365, Windows Azure and other Microsoft services used by organizations around the world. Our redesign goals were to create a simple experience that’s optimized for modern devices, reduces the number of times users need to sign in, and provides the best possible experience across the many devices that you want to use. Whether we’re accessing our email, collaborating on SharePoint or managing our services on Azure, it usually starts by signing in. Take a look at the design preview below and check out the rest of the story in yesterday’s post on the Windows Azure blog.

  • Weekend Reading: Feb. 8th Edition – Huawei’s 4Afrika Windows 8 Phone & the New Surface Blog

    In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on how Google scans the contents of personal emails to target ads, a look at the gorgeous new 4Afrika Windows 8 phone from Huawei, plus a special show of Windows 8 “supermodel” devices in honor of Fashion Week.

    Surface blog launches. Panos Panay, general manager of Microsoft Surface, pens the inaugural post of the Surface blog, which launched yesterday. He writes, “I’m pumped for the team to have this new space to share information with you as we continue to tell the stories behind what makes Surface such an amazing family of products. We’ll tell our stories and share the latest Surface news. I’m also excited to have some of my colleagues share the hard work they’ve put into creating a family of devices and accessories that continue to help you have both fun and get more done.” Check out Panay’s complete post on the Surface Blog. Pictured below is the Surface Windows 8 Pro, available tomorrow.

  • Introducing the Bing Pulse and the Bing Interactive State of The Union Experience

    The following is a post from Mark Penn, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft.


    On February 12th at 9pm ET, America will tune into one of the most anticipated events on the political calendar – the State of the Union address.

    However, “tuning in” to the State of the Union means more than just sitting down in front of the television. A recent Bing survey found nearly 75 percent of Americans identified themselves as active participants or observers in online political discussions. As that number grows, the way we consume and interact with the news is undergoing an unprecedented transformation. Search can do even more at pivotal moments where customers need a deeper level of information and act as a companion experience to live events such as the State of the Union Address.

    With that in mind, Bing is embarking on one of its most ambitious projects yet: hosting what we expect to be the largest interactive State of the Union experience in history at Bing.com/Politics. Scheduled to go live at 12 p.m. Pacific on February 9th, the site will be a non-partisan online destination designed to meet this growing need for up-to-the-minute political information and second-screen experiences that are a great companion to political broadcasts.

    Since we launched Bing, we’ve been hard at work to deliver relevant, useful search results. At its heart, Bing is really about empowering people with knowledge – by helping customers make sense of all the information on the web, in social networks, and in the world around them so that they can accomplish more in their everyday lives. Powered by Bing search technology and its unique social search experience, Bing.com/Politics also builds upon the popularity of our previous Bing Elections 2012 site, which drew nearly 8 million visitors on Elections Night.

    Tomorrow, in partnership with FOX News Channel and Foxnews.com, we will launch the Bing Pulse, which will for the first time enable Americans to give real-time feedback on the President’s speech. The Bing Pulse will allow people to join the conversation by “voting” every five seconds on their reactions to the President’s speech. Real time results of the Bing Pulse will be shown at Bing.com/Politics and on FOX News Channel. We think this will be the largest live online poll in history.

  • Daily Update, Feb. 11th – Everything You Need to Know About Big Data

    Big data is the term increasingly used to describe the process of applying serious computing power – the latest in machine learning and artificial intelligence – to seriously massive and often highly complex sets of information, and it’s opening up a new world of insights about how our world works.

    “Big data absolutely has the potential to change the way governments, organizations, and academic institutions conduct business and make discoveries, and its likely to change how everyone lives their day-to-day lives,” said Susan Hauser, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Enterprise and Partner Group.

    Today Microsoft News Center kicks off “Big Data Week” – five days of digital storytelling that showcases what customers, partners, the industry and Microsoft are doing to bring the power of big data to life. To learn more, read the feature article “How the Big Data Explosion Is Changing The World,” then check out the latest research from Microsoft on how companies are using big data to gain a competitive advantage. Want to have a little fun with big data? Take a peek at these nuggets of wisdom from IDC big data guru Dan Vesset on everything from cat owners to ice cream sales.

  • As Strong Growth Continues, Xbox Execs Share Vision for the Future of TV

    Today Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business, along with Nancy Tellem, president of entertainment and digital media at Microsoft, participated in a  D: Dive into Media session facilitated by Peter Kafka. At the session, Mehdi revealed some new data that illustrate how entertainment usage on the Xbox has exploded during its living room transformation:

    • Microsoft has now sold 76 million Xbox 360 consoles and 24 million Kinect sensors.
    • The Xbox Live community grew 15 percent in the last year to 46 million members.
    • Xbox users consumed more than 18 billion hours of entertainment in 2012, with entertainment app usage growing 57 percent year over year globally.
  • Daily Update, Feb. 12th – Big Data Done Right, The Return of ‘Contre Jour’ & More

    Big Data Week continues here at Microsoft today with a deep dive from the News Center on the innovative ways our customers are using big data to solve business problems. Read how The Weather Network uses big data to improve their forecasts (and how you can “roll your own” predictions with Windows Azure), how the National Health Index uses big data to keep us healthy and much more. Meanwhile, a guest post on the ShiSh List from Digital Folio Founder/President Patrick Carter explores the growing potential for big data in the retail space.

    Paris is known for its broad boulevards, its picturesque side streets and its heavy traffic. Autolib, an innovative car-sharing service, is helping make that traffic more manageable through a fleet of compact electric cars and an array of flexible services designed to help drivers reduce their reliance on privately owned cars — all connected and managed through an intelligent system based on Microsoft technology in the cars and at the points of registration, rental and service. Read the News Center feature to learn more.

  • The Midweek Download: Feb. 13th Edition – The Latest On Big Data Week, Tips for App and Web Developers & More

    In this edition of The Midweek Download, we’ve got stories on big data – what it is, how to use it and who’s leading the way, how to build your Windows 8 app to reach a market of 4.5 billion people, and designing your Web sites for mobile phones.

    The big bang: how the big data explosion is changing the world. In the battle of the buzzwords, “big data” is about to render “guestimation” obsolete. This is big. “Big data absolutely has the potential to change the way governments, organizations, and academic institutions conduct business and make discoveries, and its likely to change how everyone lives their day-to-day lives,” said Susan Hauser, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Enterprise and Partner Group. This first story in series for Microsoft News Center’s Big Data Week takes a look at the growing power of data to transform how we live, think and do business. For more on this story, take a look at Monday’s feature story on the News Center. For data on big data, check out this infographic based on a recent study.

    Up next: The Weather Channel forecasts the business value of big data. Weather is money. It can be a fickle profit maker or shaker. Weather can propel an upstart skydiving outfit in Argentina, while freezing up national economies in Asia. And the more precisely businesses, nations and people can understand, predict and plan for weather, the more money they can make. So it’s no wonder organizations big and small, across industries and continents, seek the very best weather information to help create their own fortunes. Yesterday, Microsoft News Center shared this Q&A with Bryson Koehler, chief information officer at The Weather Company (The Weather Channel’s parent company). Koehler talks about what big data means to TWC, and how the so-called “data deluge” has become his company’s strategic differentiator. Read about other customers who are setting themselves apart using Microsoft big data solutions in Caching in: How some organizations are using big data to change the way they do business.Pictured here, The Weather Company Chief Information Officer Bryson Koehler.

  • Everything’s Bigger in Texas: State Adopts Office 365 as Part of a State-Wide IT Modernization Strategy for More Than 100,000 Employees

    The following is a post from Michael Donlan, Vice President of U.S. State and Local Government at Microsoft.


    The Texas Department of Information Resources is adopting Office 365 for more than 100,000 employees in the largest state-wide deployment of email and collaboration services in the U.S.

    The state will consolidate multiple systems in an effort to streamline and improve the state’s communication and collaboration capabilities across agencies and to help better serve the needs of its citizens. The move to the cloud offers significant savings in IT spending due to greater efficiencies and increased capacity, while providing employees with web conferencing, real-time collaboration and document and calendar sharing.

    Office 365 also will help maintain the state’s compliance posture and high standards for security and privacy. Several agencies, including the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Alcohol and Beverage Commission, Department of Insurance, Health and Human Services, and many others, require access to data that is subject to complex security and privacy regulations. Microsoft has made a contractual commitment to the Texas Department of Information Resources by signing the CJIS Security Addendum in addition to a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement. As a result of this partnership, jurisdictions at all levels within the State of Texas, including cities and counties, will be able to take advantage of Office 365.

  • Daily Update, Feb. 13th – How the Cloud is Helping Illinois Improve Public Safety and Criminal Justice, Why Businesses Are Making Big Bets On Big Data & More

    Today the Illinois Department of Corrections and Microsoft Corp. announced the successful implementation of the Offender-360 project, a cloud-based criminal justice information system built on Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. The solution directly supports legislation signed by Gov. Pat Quinn that aims to improve Illinois public safety and criminal justice for the future. Check out the press release for more on this story.

    Big data has exploded into the mainstream, and very soon it won’t just be a matter of profitability, but of survival. “I think everything’s at stake,” said Eron Kelly, general manager of product marketing for Microsoft SQL Server, in an article today on Microsoft News Center. “Organizations that harness the power of big data will outperform their peers.” Read the full article to learn about how Microsoft’s is helping businesses survive and thrive in the dawning age of big data.

  • Microsoft Brings Big Data Experts Together in Silicon Valley

    The following is a post from Douglas Crets, Developer Evangelist, Strategic & Emerging Business Team, Microsoft.


    Business folks from farmers in Nebraska to small store retailers in Mumbai to startup developers in Silicon Valley are finding that being able to quickly understand simple data analytics is making life easier and feeding the bottom line.

    During Big Data Date Night, an event hosted last night by Microsoft, 300 big data engineers, analysts and innovators from Silicon Valley gathered to talk shop and share how they are helping their customers make sense out of huge sets of structured and unstructured data, while giving glimpses into the tremendous business opportunities available through Big data in all classes of enterprise and consumer verticals.

  • Daily Update, Feb. 14th – Falling In Love With Big Data

    It’s Valentine’s Day, and to mark the occasion Microsoft and SiSense brought together big data lovers for Big Data Date Night, an event last evening attended by about 300 engineers, analysts and innovators from around Silicon Valley. As Microsoft’s Douglas Crets writes in a guest post on this blog today, attendees engaged in a lively discussion on how businesses of all sizes can get more value and insight from big data.

    Want to join the conversation about the power of big data? Many of the same issues will be part of the agenda at the upcoming PASS Business Analytics Conference happening April 10-12 in Chicago. Registration is open now.

    Catch up on more of our Big Data Week coverage over on the Microsoft News Center, and make sure to check back tomorrow for our interview with Microsoft Research’s Eric Horvitz on what the near future holds in advancements for big data and machine learning.

    Posted by Jeff Meisner
    Editor, The Official Microsoft Blo

  • Xbox 360 Keeps Top Console Spot for 25th Straight Month

    Xbox 360 started the new year as the number one console in the U.S., marking its 25th consecutive month in the top spot with 281,000 units sold in January. Consumers spent over $338 million in January on Xbox games, consoles and accessories. (Source: NPD Group, January 2013)

    More highlights from the NPD data:

    • Holding 44 percent share of current-generation console sales, Xbox 360 sold 281,000 units in January, maintaining the number-one console spot in the U.S. (Source: NPD Group, January 2013)
    • Total retail spend on the Xbox 360 platform in January (hardware, software and accessories) reached $338 million, the most for any console in the U.S. (Source: NPD Group, January 2013)
    • During the month of January, Xbox 360 held five of the top 10 console game titles including: “Far Cry 3,” “NBA 2K13” “Call of Duty: Black Ops II” “Madden NFL13” and “Halo 4.” (Source: NPD Group, January 2013)
  • Weekend Reading: Feb. 15th Edition – Windows 8 Ads In Apps, Big Data Week Wrap-Up & Cool Windows Phone 8 Tips

    In this edition of Weekend Reading, check out innovative new ad formats for Windows 8, take a deep dive on big data, and be still our hearts: Contre Jour returns.

    Microsoft Advertising and agency partners bring Windows 8 ads in apps concepts to life. This week, Microsoft Advertising announced the launch of four creative new Windows 8 ads developed in close partnership with agency partners for brands including Delta and Paramount Pictures. “As part of the digital industry and through conversations with agencies, brands and publishers, we know that audiences are ready for something new,” wrote Stephen Kim, General Manager of Yarn at Microsoft. “And with Windows 8, we have a rich canvas that allows and inspires us to tell brand stories in a completely new way. That’s why we opened our doors early – before the product launched – to creatives, and invited them to play. As we sat down together waiting for the caffeine to kick in, we had no idea how the day would go, the direction we would take or what we would create. Collectively, we let our creativity push what we thought was possible and leaned on our new technology to make it real. What you see is the fruits of that co-ideation process.” See the ad experience Microsoft, Razorfish and Delta cooked up in the video below, check out Stephen Kim’s post on the Microsoft Advertising blog to see the other 3 concepts, and read Tuesday’s Adweek article to learn more about the new Windows 8 ad formats. 

  • Daily Update, Feb. 18th – Online Comic Book From ‘Walking Dead’ Creator Showcases Power of IE10

    Today the Internet Explorer team announced the online debut of ‘Thief of Thieves: Experience,’ an interactive online game based on the comic book series from ‘Walking Dead’ creator Robert Kirkman and Skybound, his imprint at Image Comics. The site is a stunning showcase of the new features in Internet Explorer 10, including full multi-touch capabilities and HTML5 support, within an immersive chromeless browsing experience. Learn more over on the Exploring IE blog, then experience Thief of Thieves for yourself.

  • Future of Communications: Rehumanizing the Experience from the Living Room to the Boardroom

    The following is a post from Tony Bates, President, Skype Division at Microsoft.


    I’m excited to be in San Diego today giving the inaugural Lync Conference keynote address. We have a sold out show with our growing community of customers, partners and Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs). Key industry influencers from the analyst and press communities have joined us as well.

    From the living room to the boardroom: Our vision for the future of communications
    I am excited to outline our vision for the future of communications in my keynote today. It’s about re-humanizing communications “from the living room to the boardroom.” People are at the center of this vision. All day, every day, we are all simultaneously consumers and professionals, friends, family and colleagues – and our communications technologies need to move between these dimensions as seamlessly as we do.

    Today people adapt to the requirements of technology. Multiple devices, applications and networks each have their own rules and identities and require that we conform to them. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

  • Microsoft Announces the Official Launch of Outlook.com

    Today, Microsoft announced that its highly popular email service Outlook.com is ready for prime time. Since the release of Outlook.com last summer as a preview, millions of people have already actively started using it, making it the world’s fastest-growing email service, going from 0 to 60 million in just six months.

    Starting today, Microsoft will begin to upgrade every Hotmail user to Outlook.com, so they can benefit from new features like smart integration with their social networks and easy sharing of hundreds of photos and videos within a single message.

    The upgrade is seamless and instant for Hotmail customers; their @hotmail.com email address, password, contacts, etc., will stay the same.

  • The Midweek Download: Feb. 20th Edition – What’s New for ASP.NET, Web Tools 2012.2, Lync & More

    In this edition of The Midweek Download, we’ve got stories on Lync, Skype and the future of communications; big data visionaries talking shop in Silicon Valley, plus tips on making your Windows Phone apps stand out from the crowd.

    Announcing the release of ASP.NET and Web Tools 2012.2 update. On Monday, Microsoft announced the final release of the ASP.NET and Web Tools 2012.2 update. This update is a free download for Visual Studio 2012 and .NET 4.5, and adds some great additional features to both ASP.NET and Visual Studio. This update makes no changes to the existing ASP.NET runtime, and so it is fully compatible with your existing projects and development environment. Whether you use Web Forms, MVC, Web API, or any other ASP.NET technology, there is something in this update for you. Get an outline of the new and enhanced features, plus tips and resources in Monday’s post on Scott Guthrie’s Blog.

    Rehumanizing communications from the living room to the boardroom. Microsoft Skype Division President Tony Bates gave the inaugural Lync Conference keynote address yesterday in San Diego to a sold-out show with our growing community of customers, partners and Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs). In a guest post on the Official Microsoft Blog yesterday, Bates summarizes his keynote as being about “re-humanizing communications ‘from the living room to the boardroom.’” People are at the center of this vision. All day, every day, we are all simultaneously consumers and professionals, friends, family and colleagues – and our communications technologies need to move between these dimensions as seamlessly as we do. To see what’s in store, head over to Bates’ post on the Official Microsoft Blog.

     

  • How Bridging A ‘Digital Divide’ Can Help Save Lives

    The following is a post from Edward Happ, Global CIO, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.


    Today marks an important milestone for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Microsoft as we enter into a new partnership to address the digital divide across our Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies around the globe that touch the lives of more than 150 million people each year.

    We are a leading humanitarian organization focused on addressing some of the world’s biggest challenges, including human suffering, disaster relief and preparedness, health, social inclusion and building a culture of peace around the world. We also work to strengthen the capacity of communities through our work in key focus areas such as: promoting human values, disaster preparedness, and health and community care.

    Through the partnership, we will look to overcome the challenge of fostering stronger Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies through the use of technology and innovation. Our organization has an internal digital divide where National Societies in poorer countries do not have the same technology tools and access as others. With the support of Microsoft’s cloud computing and other technologies, we can provide universality, which we describe as equal tools and access globally across our organizations. Further, technology will help us to better connect with our stakeholders no matter where they are and improve the process of delivering new programs.

    In addition, technology helps to improve outcomes in our emergency response work. Technology helps our team to more quickly assess an emergency situation, share updates easily with large audiences and communicate better with our network of Red Cross Red Crescent volunteers and workers as they provide goods and services and respond to disasters. Through technology we are able to accomplish more tasks at a faster pace after a disaster, meaning we can save more lives.

  • Microsoft Research Predicts This Year’s Oscar Winners

    Updated 24 February 11:54 PM: David Rothschild’s predictions were correct in 19 of 24 categories – nearly 80 percent accuracy.


    Can we use big data to predict the future?

    In a recent post on Inside Microsoft Research, Rob Knies writes: “Last year, David Rothschild of Microsoft Research New York City used a versatile, data-driven model to predict correctly the results of the U.S. presidential election in 50 of 51 jurisdictions—the nation’s 50 states and the District of Columbia.

    “Given the overwhelming accuracy—better than 98 percent—of those predictions, it’s no wonder that the work of Rothschild and a few other individuals trying to learn how to harness the value of big data gained the attention of the news media. ‘Some things,’ wrote Steven Cherry in IEEE Spectrum, ‘are predictable—if you go to the people who rely on data and not their gut.’”

    Now Rothschild is using a similarly data-driven approach to forecast who will take home Oscars at this Sunday’s Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences 85th annual Academy Awards. You can see his picks to win in all 24 categories using the new Oscars Ballot Predictor Office app for Excel, powered by prediction data from Rothschild’s PredictWise blog.