The Official Microsoft Blog

News & Perspectives

September, 2013

  • The Next Chapter: An open letter from Steve Ballmer and Stephen Elop

    Microsoft to acquire Nokia Devices & Services, accelerating the Windows ecosystem Nokia and Microsoft have always dreamed big – we dreamed of putting a computer on every desk, and a mobile phone in every pocket, and we’ve come a long...
  • Windows Azure cloud services achieve critical federal security milestone

    The following is a post from Susie Adams, chief technology officer for Microsoft Federal.

    Starting Monday, it will be easier for government organizations to realize the benefits of secure cloud computing.

    Microsoft received notice that Windows Azure was granted the FedRAMP Joint Authorization Board (JAB) Provisional Authority to Operate (P-ATO). Windows Azure is the first public cloud platform, with infrastructure services and platform services, to receive a JAB P-ATO

    The Federal government is moving to the cloud, and early on it recognized that, although each agency by law must still authorize and approve the mandated security controls, a streamlined process would be ideal so that individual agencies would know which cloud vendors and services had already been vetted by a central “board” of key agencies. This is what the JAB is. The FedRAMP JAB is comprised of representatives from the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).

  • Create stunning interactive charts and graphs instantly with the updated preview version of Power BI


    Microsoft Office now puts even more self-serve business intelligence capabilities at your fingertips, thanks to a round of significant updates announced in a Data Platform Insider blog post on Wednesday. The updates beef up the data analysis and visualization features of online service Power BI for Office 365, as well as a couple of key complimentary add-ins for Excel, all of which are currently available in preview versions. Here’s a look at what’s new.

  • Surface 2 tablet gives Delta pilots innovative tools on the flight deck

    The following is a guest post from Mike Wysocki, director, Delta Flight Operations Technical and Operational Support.

    On Monday, Delta announced its partnership with Microsoft to equip each of our more than 11,000 pilots with Surface 2 electronic flight bag devices operating on Windows RT 8.1. The innovative handheld tablet puts in the hands of our talented group of aviators the right tools to do their job and do it well as they fly more than 160 million passengers safely every year.

    Stored on the Surface 2 will be thousands of pages of easily accessible electronic documents, charts, navigational aids, checklists and other key reference materials previously kept in heavy flight bags. Once rolled out to the entire fleet, Delta will see an immediate fuel and cost savings as the cumbersome and heavy paper documents are removed from onboard our aircraft. In fact, the airline expects to eliminate the use of 7.5 million sheets of paper annually while reducing carbon emissions by 26 million pounds on 1.2 million fewer gallons of fuel.

  • That’s 32 months in a row for Xbox 360 at the top of the US console market


    Xbox 360 maintained its lead in the U.S. console market during August, marking the thirty-second consecutive month it took the number one spot.

    According to The NPD Group, a market research firm, Xbox 360 sold 96,000 units, more than any other console in the U.S. during August.

  • Bing debuts new logo, updated design

    The Bing team announced a major design refresh on Tuesday, introducing a new logo and combining its semantic and social search options in a single pane to the right of the search box.

  • Weekend Reading: September 6th Edition – Microsoft acquires Nokia’s devices and services business

    In this edition of Weekend Reading, we start out with some big news about Microsoft’s deal involving Nokia’s devices and services business. Then we take you to the IFA 2013 consumer electronics show in Germany, where new devices from Microsoft’s hardware partners keep rolling out fast and furious; and then back to the U.S., where the Xbox One is on track to be the biggest Xbox launch ever.

    Microsoft to acquire Nokia’s devices and services business, license Nokia’s patents and mapping services. For more information on the acquisition, including the press release, slide deck, Webcast and more, head on over to the new Nokia newsroom on the Microsoft News Center. You can also read more about the transaction in an open letter from Steve Ballmer and Stephen Elop in a Tuesday post on The Official Microsoft Blog.

    At IFA 2013, we saw a multitude of new and updated devices, including: the world’s first 20-inch 4K tablet from Panasonic, new Yoga models and the Flex line from Lenovo, the Sony VAIO | Flip PC (part laptop, part tablet, part viewer), a new generation of ASUS Ultrabooks with the Zenbook UX301 and UX302, Toshiba’s new laptops, 2-in-1s, and 8-inch tablet and Acer’s Aspire R7 – a unique 15.6-inch laptop that comes with a unique “Ezel Hinge” that allows you to move its HD display forward and into four different modes.


  • Office 365 for Nonprofits is here to help organizations do more good with technology

    On Tuesday, Microsoft took a significant step forward in its mission to help nonprofits harness the power of technology with its announcement of the global availability of Office 365 for Nonprofits through the Technology for Good program.

  • Developers and IT pros: Download Windows 8.1 RTM, Visual Studio 2013 RC and Windows Server 2012 R2 RTM now

    Starting Sept. 9, Microsoft is extending availability of the current Windows 8.1, Windows 8.1 Pro and Windows Server 2012 R2 release to manufacturing (RTM) builds to the developer and IT professional communities via MSDN and TechNet subscriptions. The Windows 8.1 RTM Enterprise edition will be available through MSDN and TechNet for businesses later this month. Additionally, Microsoft is making available the Visual Studio 2013 Release Candidate, which you can download here.

    "We heard from you that our decision to not initially release Windows 8.1 or Windows Server 2012 R2 RTM bits was a big challenge for our developer partners as they’re readying new Windows 8.1 apps and for IT professionals who are preparing for Windows 8.1 deployments,” said Corporate Vice President Steve Guggenheimer in a blog post. “We’ve listened, we value your partnership, and we are adjusting based on your feedback. As we refine our delivery schedules for a more rapid release cadence, we are working on the best way to support early releases to the various audiences within our ecosystem.”

  • Weekend Reading: September 13th Edition– Microsoft donates Office 365 to nonprofits worldwide

    In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on how Microsoft has taken a big step in helping nonprofits harness the power of technology by donating Office 365, the major achievements of the 10-year-old Partners in Learning program and the launch of the Xbox Music service to iOS and Android devices.

    Microsoft announced the global availability of Office 365 for Nonprofits through the Technology for Good program on Tuesday. The offer went out to 41 countries, and by July 2014, we’ll roll it out in up to 90 countries. Customers have already experienced the benefits of having access to the cloud and a simpler IT administration structure through Office 365. And better yet, with this donation, there’s no limit on the number of nonprofit employees who can use Office 365 for Nonprofits -- a huge boon to organizations with thousands of staff members.

  • Weekend Reading: September 20th Edition–The inside story on Skype as it turns 10

    In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on Skype as it celebrates a decade of connecting people and changing lives, a micro-documentary that shows the seamless integration of technology into designs for Fashion Week New York 2013 and a major makeover for Bing.

    The inside story of Skype’s first decade has all the elements of an epic tale: Inventive and intrepid founders, wild Estonian parties, brilliant engineering, Tabasco-doused initiations and Silicon Valley intrigue. Skype has grown into a multi-billion-dollar Microsoft asset with 300 million users and has significantly changed the way the world communicates. Skype has become a staple of life's most important milestones – as well as its everyday moments.

  • Weekend Reading: September 27th Edition–Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 are here!

    In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on the debut of the next-generation Surface tablets, a major development for Lync 2013 and the Department of Defense and new social networking and business intelligence tools.

    The week started off with a first look at the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2. You can hear new details about the making of the Surface 2 in this interview with Panos Panay, corporate vice president of Surface. And in this episode of “On the Whiteboard” you can check out some of the new devices’ highlights. Pre-orders began Tuesday morning via, Microsoft Stores and select retailers in several countries. Skype and SkyDrive are also providing Wi-Fi and storage incentives that will help you make the most out of the new Surfaces. You can go to the Microsoft Surface Newsroom to find out everything you want to know about the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2.

  • Department of Defense employees now able to use Microsoft Lync 2013 to connect to information network

    Earlier this month, Lync 2013 added a new accreditation to the fold by achieving JITC certification for Voice, Video, and Instant Message & Presence (IM&P) at the Joint Interoperability Testing Center in Fort Huachuca, Ariz.

    For those of you who aren’t familiar with this certification, that’s a fancy way of saying it enables Department of Defense (DoD) organizations to connect software, like Microsoft Lync 2013, to the DoD’s information network. Becoming JITC certified is one of the primary ways of validating software’s ability to work and interoperate on the DoD’s Defense Information Switched Network (DISN).

  • Microsoft introduces the Surface 2, Surface Pro 2 and Surface accessories


    On Monday, Microsoft added two new members to the Surface family of tablets – the Surface 2 and the Surface Pro 2.

    Surface 2 (pictured left) and Surface Pro 2 (pictured right) will each have significant updates, including improvements to processing power and battery life, display and camera resolution and the Kickstand, which now has dual angles, so it’s more comfortable for you to use on your lap or at your desk. Enhancements in Windows RT 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Pro will make Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 even more powerful and customizable.

  • ‘On the Whiteboard’ goes behind-the-scenes of Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 launch

    In this episode of “On the Whiteboard,” Editor Pamela Woon is in New York City for the launch of the next generation of Surface devices. She talks to Brian Hall, the general manager of marketing for the Surface team, and gets the inside scoop on the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2.

  • 10 inspiring things you never knew about Partners in Learning

    The following is a post from Anthony Salcito, Vice President of Worldwide Education at Microsoft.

    clip_image002After only a decade, Partners in Learning (PiL) has reached millions of teachers and students, empowering them with technology and resources. The goal in 2003, when the program was first introduced, has not changed dramatically – we set out to provide educators with the resources for teaching 21st century skills and to effectively prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow. Our focus is true to Bill Gates’ vision, in that the program continually tackles complex issues with creative problem solving.

  • Microsoft celebrates 1-year anniversary of YouthSpark and launches new programs for year 2

    Monday marks the 1-year anniversary of the launch of YouthSpark, a global initiative that aims to create opportunities for 300 million youth in more than 100 countries by 2015.

    In its first year, Microsoft created opportunities for 103 million youth. Now, Microsoft is increasing access to computer science education through expansion of TEALS – Technology Education And Literacy in Schools – and providing an enhanced digital literacy and technology skills curriculum through its YouthSpark Hub.

  • Microsoft continues going green with investments in 15 carbon offset projects across the globe

    On Tuesday, Microsoft announced a series investments in 15 carbon offset projects in a wide range of countries all over the world.

    Here’s a bit of context around these carbon offset investments from Chief Environmental Strategist Rob Bernard: “In 2012, in an effort to further our commitment to reducing Microsoft’s carbon impact, Microsoft pledged to become carbon neutral. To achieve our goal, we have implemented an internal carbon fee which we charge to business groups based on their output of carbon, primarily through electricity and air travel.”

    During the fiscal year ended June 30, Microsoft invested in 15 carbon offset projects, including projects in India, Peru, Guatemala, Mongolia, China, Brazil, Kenya, Cambodia, Turkey and the U.S.

  • Join the Pork Side in ‘Angry Birds Star Wars II’ for Windows Phone

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    If you’ve ever played the ridiculously addictive original “Angry Birds Star Wars” game, this sequel pretty much sells itself. But “Angry Birds Star Wars II” for Windows Phone doubles down on the action by letting you decide if you want to use the Force for good – or take a darker path by joining up with the greedy Pork Federation.

  • Webcast available now: Surface 2 announced in New York

    Watch as Microsoft reveals the Surface 2 and the Surface Pro 2 in New York on Monday. An expanded portfolio of new Surface accessories is also announced.

    The Surface 2, Surface Pro 2 and Surface accessories will be available at Microsoft retail stores and select third-party retailers in 22 initial markets, with more announced in the coming months. Pre-orders begin on Tuesday.

  • Tech: the necessary accessory at New York Fashion Week 2013

    During New York Fashion Week 2013, Microsoft’s technology helped one designer make a bold statement with his latest collection. Veteran designer Cesar Galindo looked to Bing, Windows Phone and Surface to help him realize his vision of “going virtual” in both the presentation and production of an installation at Lincoln Center to showcase his spring 2014 collection, CZAR.

  • Skype turns 10: Talkin’ ‘bout a revolution

    Inventive and intrepid founders, wild Estonian parties, brilliant engineering, Tabasco-doused initiations, Silicon Valley intrigue – it’s all here in the inside story of Skype’s first decade.

    Once the little Estonian company that could, Skype has grown into a multi-billion-dollar Microsoft asset and, in a single decade, significantly changed the way the world communicates. This is evident in its 300 million users, yes, but also in the ways those 300 million people are using it.

    Skype has become a staple of life's most important milestones, but also its everyday moments. A soldier uses Skype to experience the birth of his child. An explorer speaks to a classroom of children from his laboratory beneath the ocean.  A married couple uses Skype to debate paint and carpet samples for a remodel. A pair of young lovers leave Skype running as they fall asleep hundreds of miles apart – but still together.

  • Xbox Music now available on iOS and Android, along with free streaming on the Web

    On Sunday Microsoft launched the Xbox Music service across iOS and Android devices, as well as free streaming on Xbox Music via the Web around the world. The launch means many more people can now access a 30 million-song global catalog powered by the one service that integrates music experiences across your tablet, PC, phone and TV. All the music you love, every way you want it.

    "Xbox Music now, more than ever, powers music experiences between Windows 8, Xbox, Windows Phone, and now iOS, Android and the Web," says Jerry Johnson, general manager of Xbox Music. "We’re also excited to connect artists with their fans on the most anticipated consumer product of the year when Xbox One launches Nov. 22.”

  • Find out what the Xbox SmartGlass companion app will bring to Xbox One

    You’re familiar with Xbox SmartGlass, right? It turns your smartphone, tablet or laptop into the perfect companion for your Xbox, delivering unique second-screen experiences. The Xbox Wire bloggers recently caught up with Xbox Live General Manager Ron Pessner, who leads the engineering team developing the new SmartGlass, to talk about how it unlocks a multitude of activities for Xbox One.

    Find out what Pessner had to say about the experiences his team of engineers and interface and design gurus have built based on the great feedback from customers. Pessner discusses what’s coming in terms of performance, games, TV and more. Read all about it.

  • Tami Reller talks Windows at Intel Developer Forum 2013

    On Wednesday, Tami Reller, executive vice president of marketing at Microsoft, joined Kirk Skaugen, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s PC Client Group, on stage during Skaugen’s keynote at Intel Developer Forum 2013. Reller talked about Windows and the enduring partnership (more than 25 years) between the two companies.

    “Customers expect Windows on Intel architecture to provide compatibility and consistency along with personalization, productivity and security – on beautiful, smart, connected devices,” writes Brandon LeBlanc over on Blogging Windows. “And this is even more true with Windows 8.1, which is optimized to power the latest in innovative form factors powered by Intel’s ‘Haswell’ (4th generation Core) processors and ‘Bay Trail’ (Atom) processors that Intel is launching this week at IDF.”