The Official Microsoft Blog

News & Perspectives

March, 2013

  • New Windows Store Games Unveiled at Game Developer Conference

    Earlier this week at the 2013 Game Developer Conference, we announced several cool game titles soon to hit the Windows Store.

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    Some – like “Bejeweled”, “Samurai v. Zombies” and “Shuffle Party” – will hit the Windows Store this weekend. Others – including “Temple Run Brave” from Disney and “Field & Stream Fishing” – fall under the “coming soon” to the Windows Store category.

  • Weekend Reading, March 29th Edition­ – Microsoft Announces Build 2013

    In this week’s edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on Build 2013, updates to the Mail, Calendar and People apps on Windows, a musical Skype masterpiece, the first WE Day in American history and more.

    Announcing Build 2013. Earlier this week, Steve Guggenheimer, corporate vice president and chief evangelist, Developer Platform Evangelism, announced specifics around Build 2013: “To make sure everyone knows what we’re planning and can participate in this rapidly growing ecosystem, we’re pleased to announce and personally invite you to our next developer conference, Build 2013, which is taking place June 26 to 28 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. It’s been a while since our last developer event in the Bay Area, and we’re looking forward to a fantastic gathering. Save the date and mark your calendar for the opening of registration next week at 9 a.m. PT on April 2 at www.buildwindows.com.” Read more about it in this Tuesday post on The Official Microsoft Blog.

    The Mail, Calendar and People apps are getting better! On Monday, we announced an update for the Mail, Calendar, and People apps from the Windows Store.

  • Mega-Hit Game “Temple Run” Arrives in the Windows Phone Store

    Windows Phone Blogger Michael Stroh is reporting some news that should make all you game crazy Windows Phone fans out there happy: Temple Run has arrived in the Windows Phone Store.

    “Swipe to turn, jump and slide as you race over obstacles and whip around corners on a pathway resembling China’s Great Wall, all on your way to capturing hidden treasure. Collect coins, buy power-ups, and see just how far your feet can take you, with the beat of native drums setting your pace,” Stroh writes.

  • Microsoft Celebrates First U.S. We Day and the Kids Who Made it Happen

    Here’s a pretty cool story about kids helping kids by taking an active role in their communities:

    Today, Microsoft helped bring We Act to the U.S. by sponsoring a We Day event at Seattle’s KeyArena. The support springs from the Microsoft YouthSpark initiative, which aims to create opportunities for 300 million young people around the world over the next three years.

    Kids attending We Day Seattle explored how they can make a difference by turning their passions and talents into social action. They also got to rock out to live music, be inspired by celebrities and activists, and connect with one another around their common desire to change the world.

    As part of the Seattle We Day event, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer spoke to the audience of 15,000 youth about his passion for technology and how it can help change the world.

  • In Tough Times, U.S. Schools and Governments Turn to Technology to Get Lean

    Microsoft announced a slew of Office 365 and Windows 8 education and government customer wins at the annual U.S. Public Sector CIO Summit today, reflecting a willingness of public sector organizations to use technology to get leaner and more efficient within a difficult budget environment.

    On the Office 365 front, Microsoft announced that more than 1 million U.S. government workers are moving to the platform. The company’s rapidly expanding community of public sector Office 365 customers now includes the City of Kansas City, Mo.; the City of Seattle; the University of Miami; California State University, Sacramento (Sacramento State); the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs; the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority; Dupage County; and King County, Wash.

  • Throng of New Games Hits the Windows Phone Store

    With the Game Developers Conference going on down in San Francisco, it’s only fitting that a raft of new games just hit the Windows Phone Store today.

    6th Planet for Windows Phone 8

    “The highlight of the bunch is Gravity Guy 2, the eagerly anticipated sequel to the hugely popular platformer Gravity Guy. For the next month, the sequel is available only on Windows Phone. There’s also a bunch of great titles arriving today that are already proven hits on other platforms, like Chaos Rings, 6th Planet and Orcs Must Survive,” Windows Phone Blog Editor Michael Stroh reports.

  • Announcing Build 2013

    The following is a post from Steve Guggenheimer, Microsoft's Corporate Vice President and Chief Evangelist, Developer & Platform Evangelism.


    Editor's Update: Build 2013 is now sold out; however, we encourage those interested in the conference to join the waitlist. For those who are unable to join us in San Francisco, we will extend the Build experience online with live streams of the keynote, sessions, Channel 9 Live and more. Check out http://buildwindows.com for all the details.

    In the past year, we’ve introduced an assortment of new opportunities to build incredible apps and experiences on Windows, and developers all over the world have taken advantage of it. Just look at the last few weeks - we’ve seen great apps like Twitter on Windows 8 and Pandora on Windows Phone 8 as great examples of developers really taking advantage of the platform in a way that users love. But we're also seeing users increasingly expect their experiences on multiple screens, and Skulls of the Shogun is a great example of how Windows is the best place for developers to capitalize on the opportunity.

    And the opportunity is big: we saw more than 100 million downloads from the Windows Store in the first two months after GA, we crossed the 1 billion downloads mark in the Windows Phone Store, we saw a doubling of Windows Azure compute usage in just the last six months and much more. And developers are taking notice.

    To make sure everyone knows what we’re planning and can participate in this rapidly growing ecosystem, I’m pleased to announce and personally invite you to our next developer conference, Build 2013, which is taking place June 26-28, 2013 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

  • Looking Back and Springing Ahead

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


    Last week was the official start of spring here in the Northern Hemisphere. While some folks were out doing “spring cleaning,” we used the opportunity to look back a bit at what has happened in the past season, and to look ahead at what we have coming. From where I sit, it’s busy both ways. Let’s take a look back.

    First, we launched a wave of incredible devices and services to our business and consumer customers around the globe and saw growth across a number of businesses.

    While we’re still in early days, the numbers are encouraging. There are new PCs and tablets in market and great apps in the Windows Store, with new ones coming every day. Windows Phone has reached 10 percent market share in a number of countries, and according to IDC’s latest report, has shipped more than Blackberry in 26 markets and more than iPhone in seven.

  • Mail, Calendar & People Apps Will Hit Windows Store on March 26

    If you’re a power user of the Mail, Calendar and People apps on Windows like I am, then you’ll be excited to hear that, starting Tuesday, you’ll be able to download updates for each from the Windows Store.

    Windows 8 Mail App Update

    “…This update will bring improvements to your Windows experience across your whole life - your personal communication and your work. You will see big improvements to performance and additional new features to make it easier to connect with friends and colleagues, manage your inboxes, create and send email, and manage your calendar,” Windows Blogger Brandon LeBlanc reports.

  • Skype Teams with Grammy Winner Eric Whitacre to Make Beautiful Music at TED2013

    If there’s an equation for creating a virtual musical experience for the ages, then Grammy award winning composer and conductor Eric Whitacre may have found it:

    · One hundred live choir members made up of singers from choirs at California State University, Long Beach Campus, California State University, Fullerton Campus and Riverside City College +

    · Thirty singers from 28 different countries connected via Skype video calls =

    · A musical masterpiece.

    At TED2013, Whitacre led a live global virtual choir performance of his piece “Cloudburst” that, for the first time, combined live and virtual choirs. Watch the behind-the-scenes documentary below to find out how Whitacre pulled off the performance. Then, head on over to The Big Blog to see the actual performance – it’s a thing of beauty and you won’t want to miss it!

  • Weekend Reading, March 22nd edition­ – Batman, Pandora and United Join Windows Phone App Family

    In this week’s edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on Microsoft Research being recognized by Computerworld, the arrival of Pandora on Windows Phone, an update to the Kinect for Windows SDK and a shark with a taste for ducks.

    Pandora is here. Let there be rock. And punk, and blues and whatever else you groove to. Because Pandora, one of the world’s most famous Internet radio apps arrived Thursday to Windows Phone 8. The free Pandora app is not only ad-free through Dec. 31, but has features not found on any other smartphone. Pandora for Windows Phone is the only version with a Live Tile showing what’s playing at a glance. It’s also the only version that provides direct, one-tap access from the Start screen to your favorite personalized radio stations. Read the entire story on the Windows Phone Blog.

  • Get a Richer Search Experience with Bing Snapshot

    If you want a richer, deeper search experience that goes beyond a collection of blue links pointing to pages around the Web, you really should check out Bing Snapshot.

  • Microsoft Releases 2012 Law Enforcement Requests Report

    The following is a post from Brad Smith, General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Legal & Corporate Affairs at Microsoft. It was originally published on Microsoft on the Issues.


    Today, we are releasing our 2012 Law Enforcement Requests Report. This is our first Law Enforcement Requests Report. It provides data on the number of requests we received from law enforcement agencies around the world relating to Microsoft online and cloud services and how we responded to those requests. All of our major online services are covered in this report, including, for example, Hotmail, Outlook.com; SkyDrive; Xbox LIVE; Microsoft Account; and Office 365. We’re also making available similar data relating to Skype, which Microsoft acquired in October 2011.

    We will update this report every six months.

    Our Perspective

    In recent months, there has been broadening public interest in how often law enforcement agencies request customer data from technology companies and how our industry responds to these requests. Google, Twitter and others have made important and helpful contributions to this discussion by publishing some of their data. We’ve benefited from the opportunity to learn from them and their experience, and we seek to build further on the industry’s commitment to transparency by releasing our own data today.

  • Personalize Your Music with Pandora for Windows Phone

    Can’t get enough music from the Grunge Era? Is Motown more your style? Or maybe you want to close your eyes, sit back on the couch with a glass of wine and enjoy a little smooth jazz.

    Whatever your musical tastes, the Pandora for Windows Phone app has you covered. It’s a music lover’s dream and the Microsoft News Center’s latest App of the Week.

    Search for the name of one of your favorite artists, songs or classical composers and Pandora will create a custom "station" that plays similar music. You’ll hear many of your favorite tunes and discover previously undiscovered selections by artists that may be new to you.

  • Oklahoma City Thunder Gives Customers the Full Court Press with Microsoft Dynamics

    The Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team has one of the fiercest fan bases and home court advantages in the NBA thanks to star players such as Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. On game nights, more than 18,000 fans descend upon Chesapeake Energy Arena to support their hometown team.

    That’s pretty impressive considering the team only started playing in 2008. How did they do it? Well, having the likes of Durant and Westbrook helps, but the franchise also focused hard on building a great fan experience at the arena.

    To help with the customer relationship management effort, the Thunder selected Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 over Salesforce.com because of its flexibility, ease of use, integration capabilities and lower total cost of ownership.

  • Microsoft Research Honored by Computerworld for Pneumonia & HIV Advances

    Computerworld has recognized Microsoft Research for breakthroughs made in combating two deadly diseases that affect millions throughout the world: pneumonia and HIV infection.

    Oxford University

    Working in collaboration with the University of Oxford, our research strives to make pneumonia vaccine more effective.


    Two of our research efforts have been named 2013 IDG's Computerworld Honors Program Laureates. The Computerworld Honors program, founded in 1988, recognizes organizations and individuals who have used information technology to promote positive social, economic and educational change.

  • Straight from the Batcave: “The Dark Knight Rises” Comes to Windows Phone

    First we brought you “The Amazing Spider-Man.” 

    Now, “The Dark Knight Rises” is available in the Windows Phone Store for anyone brave enough to try and save Gotham City from certain destruction.

    As Windows Phone Blog Editor Michael Stroh reports, the story picks up eight years after the events of “The Dark Knight,” with billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne donning the black cape and cowl after a long absence. Waiting for him are the mysterious Selina Kyle, and Bane, a lethal adversary on a crusade to tear apart Batman’s legacy piece by piece.

  • Redbox Instant by Verizon App Now Available on Xbox LIVE

    Redbox fans will be glad to hear that the Redbox Instant by Verizon app is now available on Xbox LIVE.

    Redbox Instant by Verizon App

    Xbox LIVE’s Major Nelson reports, “Xbox LIVE Gold subscribers in the U.S. can sign up for Redbox Instant by Verizon and start enjoying Hollywood’s newest releases, in addition to a movie-lovers collection of popular classics available for unlimited streaming. Redbox Instant by Verizon also offers the ability to purchase and rent new releases and stream them directly into your living room through Xbox 360 without needing a subscription.”

  • “Gears of War: Judgment” Unleashed on Xbox 360

    The long wait for hordes of “Gears of War” fans is over. “Gears of War: Judgment” is here! The latest installment of the award-winning franchise hit stores at just after midnight.

    Developed exclusively for Xbox 360, “Gears of War: Judgment” immerses fans in the most riveting and challenging “Gears” game yet, with explosive new multiplayer modes and an epic-scale campaign that takes you back to the immediate aftermath of Emergence Day – the defining event of the “Gears of War” universe.

    Set years prior to the events of the previous “Gears of War” trilogy, “Judgment” follows Kilo Squad, a team of battle-hardened warriors comprised of the fearless Damon Baird, Augustus “The Cole Train” Cole and new characters Sofia Hendrick and Garron Paduk, as they attempt to save the besieged city of Halvo Bay from a terrifying new enemy.

    “Judgment” introduces several firsts for the franchise, including a dynamic “Smart Spawn System” that changes enemy types, timing and locations with each encounter, as well as a “Mission Declassification” system that lets players experience more challenging scenarios by uncovering critical information during the course of the campaign.

  • 64 Apps, One Dream, Pure Madness

    The following is a feature story from Microsoft News Center Editorial Staff about a new Windows Phone app contest where the public votes one lucky app into a TV ad and gets a chance to win new Windows Phones for themselves in the process.


    It’s part March Madness, part American Idol; part showcase and part showdown.

    The Windows Phone Next App Star contest enters its first round of head-to-head competition today, pitting Windows Phone apps from developers around the world against each other for a chance to see their app on TV.

    Like March Madness, the contest happens during the third month of the year, and its first round involves 64 contestants. Like American Idol, popular vote decides the winner. In this case, ballots can be cast via the contest web site starting today. Customers from every country that Microsoft does business with may vote.

    The winner of each head-to-head match gets a prize and moves on to the next round, and the top app at the end of the contest will get featured in a prime-time television ad in the U.S.

  • Got March Madness? Check Out These Apps for the 2013 NCAA Basketball Tournament

    Selection Sunday for the 2013 NCAA Basketball Tournament is done.

    Now, it’s time to for you to make your selections! If you’re as big a college hoops fan as I am, then you’ll want all the help you can get filling out those brackets. 

    Windows Phone Blog Editor Michael Stroh has highlighted a few slam dunk apps from the Windows Phone Store’s March Madness Collection to help you stay up to fill out your brackets and stay up to date on which teams advance and which ones go home.

  • Kinect for Windows SDK 1.7 Unveiled

    The Kinect for Windows team unveiled Kinect for Windows SDK 1.7 at the Engadget Expand event this past weekend.

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    The latest iteration is the result of thousands of hours of work since the release of the Kinect for Windows SDK v. 1 and comes with a host of cool new capabilities.

  • Doing Some Good in The Big Easy

    Life at Microsoft isn’t just about coming up with the next big technological innovation or writing software code.

    Case in point: Next week, more than 400 Microsoft employees, customers and partners from around the world will travel to New Orleans for the annual Microsoft Dynamics Convergence conference. On March 18, before the convention networking begins, more than 400 customers, partners and Microsoft employees attending Convergence are teaming up with New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity, Hike for KaTREEna and St. Paul’s Homecoming Center to frame two new Habitat houses.

  • Weekend Reading: March 15th Edition – Windows Phone 8 Wins PCMag.com’s Readers’ Choice Awards for Smartphone Operating Systems

    Well, it’s been one heck of a busy week here at Microsoft! This week, Windows Phone 8 won the smartphone category in PCMag.com’s 2013 Readers’ Choice Awards, the Xbox 360 kept the top console spot in the U.S., the Duke of York visited the Yammer office in London and the Twitter app for Windows 8 was released. Phew! Read more about it below.

    And the winner is… PCMag.com’s 2013 Readers’ Choice Awards are in and Windows Phone 8 won in the smartphone category! “According to our survey respondents, Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 clearly bests Apple and Android. In 2012, Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 shared the Readers' Choice Award for mobile phone platforms with Apple's iOS. This year, Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 stands alone at the top, relegating Apple's iOS to Honorable Mention,” PCMag.com writer Ben Gottesman reports. You can get the full story over on PCMag.com.

    Keep better track of favorite bands using Buzz app for Windows Phone. Do concert and album announcements tend to get lost in the noise of Facebook, Farmville, and family? Do you usually find out local shows from reviews the next day. If that’s the case, you can stay more up to date on the music scene with Buzz, a recently-enabled feature of Windows Phone 8 that rolls up info from social media and Bing to provide a snapshot of what your favorite bands are up to. Where available, you’ll find it in the Music+Videos Hub when you tap on an artist. Read this post on The Windows Phone Blog to get the entire story. Below is a trio of screenshots from the Buzz app.

    WinPhone

  • Count ‘Em! Xbox 360 Stays No. 1 Selling Console in the U.S. for 26th Straight Month

    Xbox 360 sold 302,000 units in February, marking its 26th consecutive month as the number-one selling console in the U.S., according to data released today by The NPD Group.

    February highlights from The NPD Group include:

    · Holding 41 percent share of current-generation console sales, maintaining the number-one console spot in the U.S.

    · Total retail spend on the Xbox 360 platform in February (hardware, software and accessories) was the most for any console in the U.S.

    · During the month of February, Xbox 360 held five of the top 10 console game titles including: “Crysis 3,” “Aliens: Colonial Marines,” “Dead Space 3,” “Call of Duty: Black Ops II” and “NBA 2K13.”

    This spring, Xbox 360 continues to bring new offerings to consumers. Available for a limited time, the new Spring Value Bundle includes a 250GB Xbox 360, wireless controller, wired headset, “Darksiders II” and “Batman: Arkham City” for $299.