The Official Microsoft Blog

News & Perspectives

June, 2013

  • Let’s get the Windows 8.1 party started

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


    I’ve spent the last 48 hours or so at the Moscone Center. After the past 45 days, I bet the staff there could crank out some code on their own.

    As I watched our keynotes and attended sessions, it struck me that within the past 45 days more than 15,000 developers from all around the world have made the very same pilgrimage to San Francisco, and had a very similar experience. Hotel room-to-Moscone-Center-to-hotel-room-to-Moscone Center…

    You get the picture. Not many tans among these crowds. But LOTS of optimism.

    That’s what’s great about our industry. No matter economic conditions or political strife in whatever regions of the world, the developers who’ve traveled to the Moscone Center recently, first for Google I/O, then for Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, and this week for Microsoft’s Build conference, have come with an underlying sense of optimism and a belief that the strings of code they write can improve people’s lives.

  • Time Warner Cable headed to Xbox 360 later this summer

    Today, Microsoft announced a new partnership with Time Warner Cable that will see the TWC TV app coming to Xbox 360 later this summer.

    Time Warner Cable subscribers with an Xbox Live Gold membership will be able to watch up to 300 live TV channels right from their Xbox 360 — including favorites like AMC, BBC World News, Bravo, Cartoon Network, CNN, Comedy Central, Food Network, HGTV and more. And unlike any other platform, you’ll be able to control your entertainment using your voice via Kinect for Xbox 360.

  • Weekend Reading: June 28th Edition—Microsoft showcases developer opportunity for Windows platform at Build 2013

    In this edition of Weekend Reading, the Build 2013 conference showed off the Windows 8.1 Preview and a bevy of other major developments, TechEd Europe continued the momentum of Microsoft’s cloud progress and a new strategic partnership emerged with Oracle.

    Microsoft’s Build 2013 conference in San Francisco delivers a deluge of previews. Build 2013 opened Wednesday to a packed house of 6,000 developers and IT professionals and gave them a free public preview of Windows 8.1, as well as the Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry Release Preview. The Surface team couldn’t wait to try out the former, so check out what they found. Also included in the Windows 8.1 Preview is a preview version of Internet Explorer 11. Also now out: the Visual Studio 2013 Preview. Build also revealed built-in 3D printing support in the Windows 8.1 update that will put “a factory on every desktop,” two new Bing apps, a redesigned Xbox Music and two new Windows Phone 8 models coming to Sprint. During his keynote, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced that Facebook, Flipboard and NFL apps will soon arrive for Windows. The conference also saw the announcement of an upcoming developer kit program aligned to the recently-announced new generation Kinect for Windows sensor and SDK refresh. Attendees didn’t just get more information at the conference; they also walked away with a free Surface Pro and 8-inch Acer Iconia W3 Windows 8 tablet. Read all about Build over on the Microsoft News Center.

    Get Microsoft Silverlight
  • Build 2013 Day Two recap: Windows Azure Mobile Service & Windows Azure Web Sites now available, new Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 apps and more

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    At Day Two of the Build 2013 conference in San Francisco, Microsoft showed the thousands of developers in attendance (and thousands more online) the opportunity for creating new apps and services on the Windows platform.

    Server and Tools Business President Satya Nadella and Corporate Vice President of Developer Platform Evangelism Steve Guggenheimer both delivered keynotes focused on how commonality across the Windows platform enables developers of all types to build compelling apps and experiences spanning devices and services.

    Here’s a recap of the major news announced today:

    General Availability of Windows Azure Mobile Services and Windows Azure Web Sites. Mobile Services makes it fast and easy to create a mobile backend for every device. Mobile Services simplifies user authentication, push notification, server side data and business logic so you can get your mobile application in market fast. Mobile Services provides native SDKs for Windows Store, Windows Phone, Android, iOS and HTML5 as well as REST APIs. Starting today, Mobile Services is Generally Available (GA) in three tiers—Free, Standard and Premium. Windows Azure Web Sites is the fastest way to build, scale and manage business-grade Web applications. Windows Azure Web Sites is open and flexible with support for multiple languages and frameworks including ASP.NET, PHP, Node.JS and Python, multiple open-source applications including WordPress, Drupal and even multiple databases.  ASP.NET developers can easily create new or move existing websites to Windows Azure from directly inside Visual Studio. Read more about it over on the Windows Azure Blog.

  • Streaming live: Build Day 2 keynote

    The Build 2013 keynote begins at 9 a.m. PT today and can be viewed over on Channel 9.

    Build 2013, kicked off Wednesday at the Moscone Center in San Francisco and continues through June 28. There Microsoft will share the latest updates and talk about what's next for Windows, Windows Server, Windows Azure, Visual Studio and more.

  • Build day one news recap: Windows 8.1 Preview, new Bing apps, Sprint’s new Windows Phone 8 devices and more

    Microsoft’s Build conference for developers kicked off in San Francisco today, and this morning’s keynote was packed with major news announcements from execs Steve Ballmer, Julie Larson-Green and Antoine Leblond. Here’s a recap:

    You can now download a free public preview of Windows 8.1 and get a sneak peek at the latest features and enhancements coming later this year, including the return of the Start button, the ability to boot directly to the desktop, a preview version of Internet Explorer 11, two new Live Tile sizes, a new Mail app and a reimagined search experience powered by Bing. Oh yeah, and built-in 3D printing support that will put “a factory on every desktop,” as Shanen Boettcher of Microsoft’s Startup Business Group put it in a blog post this morning. Yowza. You can read lots more about Windows 8.1 in this post on Blogging Windows. To download the free preview and see it for yourself, head to the official download page.

  • 3D printing with Windows

    The following is a post from Shanen Boettcher, General Manager of the Startup Business Group at Microsoft.


    Remember when we said there’d be a PC on every desktop? How about this -- a factory on every desktop!

    Today, we announced that the Windows 8.1 update will have built-in support for 3D printing. Making a 3D object on your PC will be as easy as writing a document in Word and sending it to print. Just as desktop publishing transformed how we write, we think desktop manufacturing will transform how we create.

    3D printing has been around for a while but has mainly been used by manufacturing companies – car makers, aerospace companies, toymakers, and hardware companies, including Microsoft, to make prototypes. Using big, very expensive machines, manufacturers build 3D models using a variety of materials, from plastic to metal. Recently, the popularity of 3D printing has exploded among the “maker” community – do-it-yourself hobbyists, inventors and design enthusiasts who make everything from jewelry and clothing to robotics and games. Many experts think 3D printing could help spark a manufacturing renaissance, and some market analysts predict that the global 3D printing market will reach $3.1 billion by 2016.

    3D Printing 1

  • Get a first-hand look at the Windows 8.1 Preview today!

    Today, Microsoft announced at Build 2013 that the Windows 8.1 Preview is here.

    Some of the new features you’ll find in the Windows 8.1 preview include two new tile sizes (large and small) and the ability to sync customizations, apps and files across all your Windows 8.1 devices. In other words, if you change your Start screen, install new apps, pin new apps to your Start screen on one PC – all those changes are synced to your other PCs. Also, the Windows Store has been redesigned to make it easier to find the apps you want.

  • Sprint announces two new Windows Phone 8 devices coming this summer: The HTC 8XT and Samsung ATIV S Neo

    Sprint customers will finally be able to get their hands on a Windows Phone 8 device later this summer. The carrier announced today that the HTC 8XT and Samsung ATIV S Neo will be the first two Windows Phone 8 models available on its 4G LTE network.

  • Watch the Build 2013 keynote at 9 a.m. PT today

    The Build 2013 keynote will begin at 9 a.m. PT today and can be viewed over on Channel 9.

    Build 2013, which takes place at the Moscone Center in San Francisco starting today until June 28, is where we'll share the latest updates and talk about what's next for Windows, Windows Server, Windows Azure, Visual Studio and more.

    Build will showcase how developers can take advantage of the future of Windows, Windows Phone, Windows Azure, Visual Studio and much more. The Microsoft News Center will publish updates and announcements for press and analysts throughout the event, which you can find here. Additional event information will be available at http://www.buildwindows.com/.

  • Announcing Microsoft Ventures for startups to build, innovate and grow

    The following is a post from Rahul Sood, general manager of Microsoft Startups.


    Entrepreneurship is an increasingly global phenomenon. We know that the barriers to turn an idea into a business have never been lower. At the same time, entrepreneurs at any maturity level still need a lot of assistance, and there are more resources than ever available to help them. As ecosystems become more fractured, paths to innovation shift and evolve, often requiring support tailored to that particular market to spur meaningful growth. To meet these growing sets of needs across mature and emerging markets alike, we are strengthening the resources we provide entrepreneurs.

    Today, Microsoft is announcing the creation of Microsoft Ventures, a coordinated global effort that offers the tools, resources, expertise and routes to market by providing mentorship, technology guidance, seed funding, joint selling opportunities and other benefits. Microsoft isn’t new to working with startups. Since 2008, more than 75,000 startups from over 100 countries have received access to tools and resources through the BizSpark program. Since launching our accelerator programs two years ago, 114 startups have graduated, and nearly all that sought a subsequent round of funding received it. We launched the Bing Fund in 2012 to make seed investments in startups, and help them build their business and improve their technology.

  • Microsoft and Yammer: One year in

    The following is a post from David Sacks, Corporate Vice President, Yammer.


    One year ago today, Microsoft announced its acquisition of Yammer. In just 12 months, we have made tremendous progress in accelerating the adoption of enterprise social, driving innovation within the Yammer service and beginning to integrate with Office 365. Today, we are providing additional visibility into our product plans through an enterprise social roadmap update and by highlighting significant momentum over the last year, including

    • Users have grown by 55 percent to approximately 8 million registered seats.
    • User activity (as measured by messages, groups and files) has roughly doubled year over year.
    • Paid networks have grown over 200 percent year over year.

    These numbers build on our February 20 announcement regarding sales and customer momentum, showing the continued growth and adoption of enterprise social. This level of adoption is particularly impressive for a service that is just 5 years old.

  • TechEd Europe: Big bets and big opportunities

    The following is a post from Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President of Windows Server & System Center at Microsoft.


    I am absolutely thrilled to be delivering the Day 1 keynote at TechEd Europe for the third straight year. This is consistently an amazing event with the very best and brightest companies and IT pros across Europe, not to mention some equally amazing products to highlight and demonstrate.

    There were some big announcements at TechEd North America (e.g., a refresh of our key enterprise IT solutions like Windows Server & System Center 2012 R2, Windows Intune and SQL Server 2014, as well as Visual Studio 2013, new Windows Azure BizTalk services, Azure per-minute pricing, new MSDN subscriber benefits, etc.), and TechEd Europe is going to have some surprises of its own.

    In particular, I’ll continue telling the story that began at TechEd North America in New Orleans by announcing the immediate availability of preview software for Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2 and SQL Server 2014.

  • Partners in the enterprise cloud

    The following is a post from Satya Nadella, President of Microsoft’s Server & Tools Business


    As longtime competitors, partners and industry leaders, Microsoft and Oracle have worked with enterprise customers to address business and technology needs for over 20 years. Many customers rely on Microsoft infrastructure to run mission-critical Oracle software and have for over a decade. Today, we are together extending our work to cover private cloud and public cloud through a new strategic partnership between Microsoft and Oracle. This partnership will help customers embrace cloud computing by improving flexibility and choice while also preserving the first-class support that these workloads demand.

    As part of this partnership Oracle will certify and support Oracle software on Windows Server Hyper-V and Windows Azure. That means customers who have long enjoyed the ability to run Oracle software on Windows Server can run that same software on Windows Server Hyper-V or in Windows Azure and take advantage of our enterprise grade virtualization platform and public cloud. Oracle customers also benefit from the ability to run their Oracle software licenses in Windows Azure with new license mobility. Customers can enjoy the support and license mobility benefits, starting today.

  • Developers, devices and a world of opportunity

    The following is a post from Steve Guggenheimer, Corporate Vice President of Developer Platform & Evangelism at Microsoft.


    The developer ecosystem is undergoing rapid change, having grown from fewer than 20 million professional programmers just 15 years ago to more than 100 million coders today, ranging from pros to citizen developers. And, the opportunity has never been greater: With an explosion of low cost, powerful devices and the access to massive computing and processing power in the cloud, developers are no longer constrained by the hardware or software of a specific device or a local data store. But with opportunity comes the challenges of learning new technologies, fierce competition, and juggling the variety of devices and services in the marketplace. A successful path forward can include navigating any number of difficult choices before an app can generate revenue, create a differentiated experience and provide an efficient return on investment.

    At Build 2013 this week in San Francisco, we will showcase how developers, app builders and companies of all sizes can create experiences on the Windows platform to engage consumers, empower employees, solve problems and drive companies. Whether developing a client application for the Windows desktop, or building to the modern device and cloud application patterns with Windows 8 and Windows Azure, developers are seeking consistent and flexible platforms.

  • Explore a place where sound goes to die in the second installment of ‘On the Whiteboard’

    In the second episode of Microsoft’s new film series “On the Whiteboard,” Editor Pamela Woon exposes an anechoic chamber of secrets.

    The anechoic chamber in question is a heavily padded room where all sound is absorbed. It’s so quiet in the chamber that you can hear blood pumping through your veins. Researchers use the chamber to study the sounds of silence, including testing and analyzing Surface to make sure that click you hear when you snap the kickstand shut is pleasing and robust to the average ear.

  • Fear and loathing in Cannes: Why advertisers must stop expecting attention & start earning it

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


    It’s fitting that Sunday is the season finale of Mad Men, the award-winning AMC television series set in the ‘60s about the lives of the ruthlessly competitive men and women of Madison Avenue advertising.

    Like him or hate him, Don Draper is an incredibly compelling character, and I’ve been thinking a lot about him this week as I’ve read story after story about the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity.

    I’ve got to hand it to the advertising community. Nothing as pedantic as Las Vegas. Instead, they head to the beaches in Cannes, France. As a former Marine, I’m familiar with good and bad tours of duty. A week in Cannes strikes me as a VERY GOOD tour. Smile

    But it’s also a LOT of work, as evidenced by the news emanating from Microsoft’s advertising organization this week. Unlike some of our competitors, selling advertising isn’t our primary business, but it’s an important part of the mix, as we learned in greater detail this week.

  • Weekend Reading: June 21 Edition— Cannes Lions, digital ads and Windows 8, oh my

    In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ll take you to sunny France for the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, introduce a new Web series, highlight some breakthrough work from Microsoft Research and more.

    Microsoft Advertising ushers in innovative approaches at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. On Sunday, this week-long advertising bonanza commenced, and Microsoft joined 11,000 delegates attending from more than 90 countries – the biggest ever showing – to celebrate the event’s 60th anniversary. Each year, the advertising industry gathers to learn from the best and celebrate innovative marketing – and Microsoft emerged early on as a leader. Read this post by Natasha Hritzuk about how Microsoft Advertising used consumers’ ideas to “co-create” new concepts of digital advertising’s future. And Andy Hart, vice president of Advertising & Online Europe, wrote a blog post about the thinking behind that approach – and what it means for the advertising industry. The festival also saw the unveiling of new ad prototypes for Windows 8. Check out the daily updates from Microsoft Advertising’s blog, where you can find the videos and interviews with modern day Mad Men. The Festival’s lineup, social media connections and photos are on their Cannes Lions microsite.

  • Xbox team announces major updates to Xbox One connectivity and licensing requirements

    The Xbox team announced today that it’s making some big updates to Xbox One in response to feedback from customers. You can read more about the updates, which include connectivity requirements and licensing updates, in this post on Xbox Wire from IEB President Don Mattrick.

  • Tap into your inner creator with Socl and BLINK

    Two big pieces of news out of Microsoft Research today.

    First, FUSE Labs, creator of Socl (pronounced “social”), has today released four new ways for people to express and share ideas on the Web. Here’s a quick backgrounder on Socl: Initially created as an experimental research project in social research, Socl has evolved into an online community where people express ideas through collages that take seconds to create and are easy to collect, comment upon and share. Usually, Socl posts are a mix of images, links and videos found on the Web and annotated with titles and captions. Socl posts are easily shared on Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr and Twitter.

  • Xbox 360 stays atop the U.S. console market

    Xbox 360 maintained its position as the top console in the U.S. last month, selling more units than any other platform, according to new data from The NPD Group. May marked the 29th consecutive month that Xbox 360 was the best-selling console in the U.S.

    May highlights from NPD include:

    · Total retail spend on the Xbox 360 platform in May (hardware, software and accessories) reached $149.8 million, the most for any console in the U.S.

    · During the month of May, Xbox 360 held seven of the top 10 console game titles including: “Dead Island: Riptide,” “Injustice: Gods Among Us,” “Metro: Last Light,” NBA 2K13,” Call of Duty: Black Ops II,” “BioShock Infinite” and “Halo 4.”

  • New film series 'On the Whiteboard' explores intersection between technology and culture

    Ever wonder where those familiar chimes and beeps that signal you’ve got a new text message or e-mail waiting on your smartphone come from?

    Well, now you can find out. In the first episode of Microsoft’s new film series “On the Whiteboard,” Editor Pamela Woon chats with two-time Oscar winner Randy Thom about the (often underestimated) importance of sound in human-technology interactions.

  • Weekend Reading: June 14th Edition–It’s all about E3

    In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on E3, Microsoft and Best Buy teaming up to create new Windows Stores only at Best Buy and more.

    News from the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. It was a big week for Microsoft and Xbox fans at E3. Just weeks after unveiling the Xbox One, Microsoft unleashed a wave of news at E3, and Xbox Wire covered it all. However, here are a few of the highlights: Xbox unveils a new generation of games; a letter from Marc Whitten, chief product officer in the Interactive Entertainment Business, on cool new features coming to Xbox Live; a breakdown of some of the awesome accessories coming for Xbox One; Major Nelson’s update on changes coming to Xbox Achievements; Xbox One breaking pre-order records on Amazon.com; IEB President Don Mattrick participating in a panel on interactive experiences with legendary Star Wars creator George Lucas, luminary filmmaker Steven Spielberg and others at USC; the unveiling of open-wheel race cars for “Forza Motorsport 5” for Xbox One; and the debut of the new Xbox 360. Finally, Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Corporate Communications Frank Shaw penned this wrap up of some of the biggest news of the week for readers of The Official Microsoft Blog. Below is video from Xbox's E3 media briefing.

  • Scale matters: Windows Azure, Windows Stores & Xbox One

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


    Scale is a word I come across frequently these days.

    In this era of cloud computing, system scalability is key. Satya Nadella focused on the significance of scale a couple of weeks ago in his post about the era of the cloud OS.

    It’s interesting to think about scale from a software architecture perspective, as we move from the scale-up systems of the past, to the horizontal scale-out systems of the future. I don’t pretend to be a software engineer, but I realize this shift is significant.

    Scale is significant in business, too, as the Wikipedia description of scalability correctly notes. In fact, it’s the first word that came to mind yesterday when we announced our strategic partnership with Best Buy to create Windows Stores within 500 U.S. Best Buys and more than 100 Best Buy and Future Shop locations in Canada. These stores-within-a-store will roll out between now and September and will have more than 1,200 Best Buy Microsoft-trained sales associates ready to help consumers make the most informed decisions.

    Boom! Horizontal scale. In about 100 days.

  • Microsoft and Best Buy team up to create the Windows Store only at Best Buy

    Looking to purchase a Surface Pro or Windows Phone 8 device, but you want to actually hold it in your hands before laying down your hard-earned cash?

    Well, it just got easier to demo one of the many awesome Microsoft devices through a new strategic partnership announced today that will create the Windows Store only at Best Buy, a comprehensive store-within-a-store in 500 Best Buy locations across the United States and more than 100 Best Buy and Future Shop locations in Canada.