The Official Microsoft Blog

News & Perspectives

October, 2013

  • A closer look at the two-position kickstand in Surface 2

     

    The Surface team on Wednesday shared a look at perhaps one of the most iconic features of Surface – the kickstand. It’s part of what makes Surface so versatile, and even more so with the new two-position kickstand in Surface 2. In the video above, Surface design lead Ralf Groene talks about what it took to make the kickstand work so flawlessly in two different positions, yet still “fit perfectly” into the device when not in use.

  • Ralf Groene talks about the pingpong of designing and engineering Surface 2

    Most tech products are first designed, and then the designer hands the drawings over to the engineering team to be created. Not so for the Surface team. According to Ralf Groene, who leads the industrial and interaction design teams for Surface devices, the creation of Surface 2 was more like a pingpong game, where at each stage of development the engineering team would consult with designers to discuss progress and make sure the emerging product continued to meet the team’s vision.

    Watch the video above to get a sense of the total focus on a great final experience. Groene discusses various aspects of the Surface 2, from the antenna cover to the fabric used on Type Cover 2, to the chemistry and physics of grease-repelling surfaces that minimize fingerprints.

    See and feel the Surface 2 for yourself at a Microsoft retail store and other select retailers now. For more on the product, head on over to the Surface Blog.

  • No victory lap: In education, we all have work to do

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


    Every day, we hear about some of the many challenges staring educators in the face – budget shortfalls, an increasingly complex educational landscape, and the difficulty of preparing students for a shifting job market.

    With this in mind, I read a recent announcement by Apple CEO Tim Cook with consternation. Cook claims that Apple has “locked up 94 percent of the tablet market” in education. There is some “special math” at work here, but, more importantly, he's missing the point. At the end of the day, it's not about device market share. It's about the graduation rate. It’s about the percentage of students prepared for the workforce of today and tomorrow. These are the real education numbers that matter. And, at Microsoft, this is our focus.

    In my role, I have the pleasure to work with school leaders and educators from around the world. In my travels, I’m often asked for thoughts about “the competition.” While I love to geek out on technology and all the goodness Microsoft can offer to students and teachers, the “competition” I care most about is that of low expectations, to create a world where students are empowered to expect more from themselves and their education.

  • Microsoft enhances Employee Giving Program to raise next billion for nonprofits

    The following post is from Lisa Brummel, Chief People Officer at Microsoft.


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    (From left to right) Microsoft employees Vatsala Isaac, Kendall McElliott, Rachel Ash and Gilmere Vieira at the company’s 5K Run/Walk, an annual Employee Giving Campaign tradition.

    It’s been a busy autumn at Microsoft. When I watch the buzz of activity across the company, I see creative people collaborating and moving toward a vision. Our people are equally passionate about contributing to their communities outside of Microsoft. This energy is on full display during October, our annual Employee Giving Campaign – a magical time of year for all of us.

    Last year was a significant moment for the Employee Giving Program as we marked the 30th Employee Giving Campaign and the milestone of $1 billion raised for more than 31,000 nonprofits over those three decades (inclusive of corporate match). But we’re not done.

  • What’s it like to design the future of Microsoft? Ask this guy.

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    When Andrew Kim was a third-year design student, one of his professors gave him this assignment: Reinvent the Popsicle. But Kim wasn’t that into it, so instead he handed in “The Next Microsoft” – a bold and comprehensive redesign of the entire Microsoft brand, from Office to Surface.

    Kim also posted the work to his blog, immediately sparking interest among designers, tech press like the Verge, and, yep, even Microsoft, who quickly recognized his potential and hired him on as a designer at Xbox.

  • Dr. Nick Patel makes his rounds with a Surface Pro

    As the medical world turns increasingly to electronic health records, it becomes essential that physicians have a powerful and portable device they can carry and refer to as they make their rounds. On Tuesday the Surface Blog presented a video with Dr. Nick Patel from Columbia, South Carolina, on how the Surface Pro has helped him to increase his efficiency while also improving the interactions he has with his patients.

    In the video above, Patel shares his insights at the Surface 2 event on Sept. 23. For more, check out this video from earlier this summer in which the Surface team took a closer look at how Patel and colleagues used the device. Also, the Microsoft in Health blog published an in-depth, three part series (1, 2, 3) on how Surface Pro helped to address the “Health Information Technology Productivity Paradox” – created as the need to document information in electronic health records, and the technology used to do so, was impacting the quality of the interaction with patients and general efficiency.

  • New Cybersecurity report now available from Microsoft

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    Trustworthy Computing released volume 15 of the Microsoft Security Intelligence Report, which provides threat intelligence and analysis of cyber threats in over 100 countries and regions worldwide on Tuesday.

    “Among the numerous key findings in the new report, one of the more interesting things to surface was the increased risk of using unsupported software,” writes Microsoft Director of Trustworthy Computing Tim Rains in a blog post. “The report found that in the first half of 2013, nearly 17 percent of computers worldwide that run Microsoft real-time security products encountered malware that tried to get on or stay on those systems, but Microsoft anti-malware products blocked this from happening.”

  • Inside Surface: Steve Bathiche demonstrates advances in Touch Cover 2

    Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 have been getting a lot of attention in the press since their Oct. 21 launch. To give you more detail on what went into making the most productive tablets on the planet, each day this week the Surface Blog is posting a video from the Sept. 23 Surface 2 announce event in New York City.

    On Monday it shared the first video, which you can view above. Stevie Bathiche, Microsoft distinguished scientist and head of the Applied Science team at Microsoft, talks about the refinements to Touch Cover 2 – the much-talked-about accessory for Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2. A protective cover that easily clicks into your Surface, Touch Cover 2 is more rigid than its predecessor, features a full QWERTY keyboard that is now easier to type on, and supports gestures that make you more productive.

    Try one for yourself at a Microsoft retail store or other select retailer in your area. Find out where to buy, and stay tuned for more videos through the week.

  • Announcing Windows Azure HDInsight: Where big data meets the cloud

    The following post is from Quentin Clark, Corporate Vice President of the Data Platform Group at Microsoft.


    I am pleased to announce that Windows Azure HDInsight – our cloud-based distribution of Hadoop – is now generally available on Windows Azure. The GA of HDInsight is an important milestone for Microsoft, as its part of our broader strategy to bring big data to a billion people.

    On Tuesday at Strata + Hadoop World 2013, I will discuss the opportunity of big data in my keynote, “Can Big Data Reach One Billion People?” Microsoft’s perspective is that embracing the new value of data will lead to a major transformation as significant as when line of business applications matured to the point where they touched everyone inside an organization. But how do we realize this transformation? It happens when big data finds its way to everyone in business – when anyone with a question that can be answered by data, gets their answer.

  • You’re invited! Xbox One launches Nov. 22, ad campaign begins now

    On Friday, the Xbox team launched a campaign to invite the world to join the Xbox One launch on Nov. 22. The campaign is designed around celebrating our fans, and Xbox One is the only all-in-one entertainment system that brings together content loved by gamers, movie buffs, sports fans and TV lovers alike, all in one place.

    The Xbox One television campaign launches Sunday in the U.S. during Sunday Night Football on NBC and will subsequently roll out to the world. The ads, directed by award-winning director Bryan Buckley with visual effects from The Mill, will highlight characters and content from games, sports, movies and TV shows that are part of Xbox One.

  • Weekend Reading: Oct. 25th Edition–New phablets, tablets, apps and games unveiled at Nokia World

    In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on the new devices, apps and games announced at Nokia World, the retail release of the newest generation of Surface devices and inroads Office 365 has made with both private and public organizations.

    At Nokia World, the spotlight was on new devices, apps and games. Two new smartphones were unveiled: the Lumia 1520 and Lumia 1320 (the former is pictured below), both with 6-inch, high-definition screens. A new Windows RT 8.1 tablet, the Lumia 2520, also made its debut. The event also revealed a slew of new apps, including the much-anticipated Instagram, Vine and Xbox Video apps. But that’s just a sampling of the apps and games introduced at Nokia World. The Windows Phone Blog has the full scoop.

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  • Apples and oranges

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


    I’m still over in Abu Dhabi, where the only thing hotter than the weather are the new Windows devices unveiled by Nokia this week.

    I have to say, I’m really excited for a 1080p Lumia with a third column on my start screen so I can keep a close eye on more people, more news, more stuff.

    Of course, even with the 720p display I’m using right now, I could easily spot some coverage today that needs to be corrected.

    Seems like the RDF (Reality Distortion Field) typically generated by an Apple event has extended beyond Cupertino.

    So let me try to clear some things up.

  • Office 365 gets the green light in California for use by law enforcement

    A critical milestone was reached this month in the State of California with the Department of Justice and Microsoft jointly signing an agreement confirming that Office 365 helps organizations meet strict federal regulatory requirements around security and privacy.

    What this means is that any California state Office 365 customer can now have its law enforcement agencies use Office 365 as the cloud productivity, communication and collaboration solution and still comply with the FBI Criminal Justice Information Security Policy requirements.

    Just like we did with Texas, we worked closely with California officials to ensure that Microsoft offerings could meet the high demands of CJIS,” writes Mike Donlan, vice president of U.S. State and Local Government at Microsoft, in a post over on the Microsoft in Government Blog.

  • Skype for Windows 8.1 is a multitasker’s nirvana

    If you often watch TV while keeping one eye on your phone for incoming emails, or while playing a game on your tablet, you’ll like Skype for Windows 8.1, available now.

    Skype for Windows 8.1, which will work on any Windows 8.1 device, lets you multitask while keeping a Skype chat going, without missing a beat – or a moment.

  • Windows Phone 8 apps and games galore announced at Nokia World

    The news that an official Instagram app for Windows Phone 8 will be available “in the coming weeks” may dominate the headlines coming out of Nokia World in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, but the fact is, a whole bevy of great apps and games for Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 were announced.

    Some of the ones that stick out in Windows Phone Blog Editor Michael Stroh’s mind include Xbox Video, “FIFA 14,” “Temple Run 2” and new games from Ubisoft.

    Some of the other apps announced at Nokia World include: CamScanner (a document management app for individuals, small businesses, organizations, governments and schools), ESPN F1 (the official ESPN F1 app for Windows Phone brings you the best Formula One coverage across the globe) and Nokia Storyteller (an app that automatically integrates your phone pictures with location information, then plots this chronological picture journey on a map.)

  • Nokia takes the wraps off of the Lumia 2520 Windows tablet at Nokia World

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    On Tuesday at Nokia World in Abu Dhabi, Nokia unveiled the 10.1-inch Lumia 2520 tablet, powered by Windows 8.1 RT.

    The Lumia 2520 will come in a wide array of colors, including red and white in a glossy finish, and cyan and black in a matte finish. Its 10.1-inch, 1080p display features Corning Gorilla Glass 2 with almost 180 degree viewing angles.

  • Announced at Nokia World: 2 new super-sized Windows Phones, the first Nokia tablet & Instagram is on the way!

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    If you were up into the early morning hours of Tuesday to watch the Webcast of the Nokia World event in Abu Dhabi, then you know it was basically one blockbuster piece of news after another.

  • They’re here! Surface 2, Surface Pro 2 and new accessories now on sale

    Microsoft on Tuesday announced that its newest Surface models — Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 — along with an expanded portfolio of new Surface accessories are now available for purchase at Microsoft retail stores, http://www.microsoftstore.com, select third-party retailers and authorized commercial resellers in 21 initial markets, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. The new Surface products will be available in China in early November.

    “Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 are the most productive tablets on the planet, and they each benefit from significant updates, including improvements to processing power and battery life, display and camera resolution, and the kickstand — now featuring a second, wider angle so it’s more comfortable to use Surface on your lap or at your desk,” Microsoft shared in a press release. “Enhancements in Windows 8.1 RT and Windows 8.1 Pro make Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 even more powerful and customizable.”

    Knowledgeable staff are on hand at all Microsoft retail store locations to answer questions and help with Surface setup, so customers have a great out-of-box experience and walk out the door with a product personalized for them. To find a Microsoft retail store near you, visit http://www.microsoftstore.com.

  • Tune in Oct. 22 to watch live from Nokia World Abu Dhabi

    Nokia will hold a press event at 12 a.m. PT on Oct. 22 at Nokia World in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. You can watch the webcast from the event at Nokia Conversations.

    There will also be additional interactive sessions that will follow, going into more detail about the news that is announced. Those sessions have “historically been reserved for the press, bloggers, partners and analysts” attending Nokia World, writes Ian Delaney, the editor of Conversations, but “we’re extremely pleased and excited to be able to offer them here on Conversations, for the first time.”

  • Bing Smart Search on Windows 8.1 finds your needle in a haystack

    In this episode of “On the Whiteboard,” Editor Pamela Woon sits down with Derrick Connell, Bing’s corporate vice president, to show how easy it is to find what you want quickly using Bing Smart Search on Windows 8.1.

  • Weekend Reading: Oct. 18th Edition–Windows 8.1 is here!

    In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on the release of Windows 8.1, Windows Phone 8 Update 3, Microsoft Ventures’ first seed investment and major app news! Check ‘em out.

    Windows 8.1 now available! Global availability of Windows 8.1 is now here, bringing a variety of new features and improvements to Windows 8 that we think people will really enjoy. We listened to customer feedback and are delivering many of the improvements we’ve been asked for. If you’re a consumer and already have a Windows 8 device, you can now download the free update to Windows 8.1 online through the Windows Store. If you’re a consumer who has a device running Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP or the Windows 8.1 Preview, visit Windows.com, which will detect your operating system and provide you with the information you need to get Windows 8.1 on your device. You can read more about it over on Blogging Windows. Also, you won’t want to miss this guest post on Blogging Windows from Terry Myerson, executive vice president of Operating Systems at Microsoft, which talks about how with Windows 8.1, you’ll have one cohesive experience across all your devices. Also, Windows 8.1 is available to all commercial customers and partners. As Microsoft has shared before, Windows 8.1 represents a significant milestone for our business customers. It builds on our vision to offer businesses the most powerful and flexible modern operating system across devices, helps customers enable their mobile users wherever they are working, and combines that flexibility with the manageability and security IT Pros demand. You can get that story over on the Windows for your Business blog. Finally, Microsoft also announced that the Windows Store is now open for developers submitting apps targeting Windows 8.1. Check out this post on the Windows App Builder Blog for that story. That’s a screenshot of the People App for Windows 8.1 below.

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  • NPD Group: Biggest September for Xbox 360 software sales

    In October, Xbox 360 reached 80 million consoles sold to retailers worldwide and maintained its lead as the number one selling console in the U.S. in 2013.

    Also on Thursday, market research firm NPD released new statistics for the video game console market. NPD highlights from September include:

    · Last month marked the biggest September software sales ever for Xbox 360, with sales reaching $401.2 million the most for any console in the U.S.
    · Xbox 360 continues to see strong consumer demand with an amazing lineup of titles. In fact, Xbox 360 held five of the top 10 consoles games during the month of September including: “Grand Theft Auto V,” “FIFA 14,” “Madden NFL 14,” “Diablo III” and “NBA 2K14.”
    · Xbox 360 remains the number one selling console in the U.S. in 2013, with 1.6 million units sold this year.

  • App of the Week: Official Facebook app arrives with Windows 8.1

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    Windows 8.1 is finally here – and it even brought a few friends to the launch party, including a new official Facebook app for Windows.

  • Check out the business benefits of Windows 8.1 and take steps now to begin your deployment

    Beginning Thursday, Windows 8.1 is available to all commercial customers and partners. As Microsoft has shared before, Windows 8.1 represents a significant milestone for our business customers. It builds on our vision to offer businesses the most powerful and flexible modern operating system across devices, helps customers enable their mobile users wherever they are working, and combines that flexibility with the manageability and security IT Pros demand.

    With advancements in user experience, manageability, security, mobility and networking, Windows 8.1 is designed to help organizations drive their business forward with increased productivity, whether it be through connected mobile scenarios or by streamlining processes.

    As Erwin Visser, general manager, Windows Commercial, notes in the Windows for Your Business blog, companies are already taking advantage of Windows 8.1 Enterprise to transform their business operations and empower increasingly mobile workforces – examples include UnitedHealth Group, Boeing and Campari Australia.

  • Windows 8.1 and the Windows Store are now ready: Here’s what developers need to know

    With Thursday’s availability of Windows 8.1 and Visual Studio 2013, Microsoft also announced that the Windows Store is now open for developers submitting apps targeting Windows 8.1.

    For those of you who started working on your app with preview versions of Windows 8.1, you’ll first need to update your preview environment to Thursday’s release versions and Visual Studio 2013. Packages built on prerelease versions won’t be accepted into the Store. For apps written in HTML/JavaScript, check out the recent blog post with more specifics to help you target the release build of Windows 8.1.

    And if you already have an app in the Store for Windows 8 users, you’ll want to check out the info on retargeting your app. You can import your existing project into Visual Studio and make changes as needed to take advantage of the new features in Windows 8.1. Once you’ve finished building, it’s easy to add your Windows 8.1 packages to your current app so that customers who’ve upgraded to Windows 8.1 will see the latest version of your app. (Of course, you can also continue to update your Windows 8 apps as needed.)