The Official Microsoft Blog

News & Perspectives

October, 2013

  • Get Windows 8.1 now!

    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. Need more information? Read this FAQ for answers to many of the most common questions about getting Windows 8.1.

  • Visual Studio 2013 now available for download

    On Thursday, S. Somasegar, corporate vice president of the Developer Division at Microsoft, announced that the final releases of Visual Studio 2013, .NET 4.5.1, and Team Foundation Server 2013 are now available for download.  MSDN subscribers can download here.

    “Visual Studio 2013 is the best tool for developers and teams to build and deliver modern, connected applications on all of Microsoft’s platforms,” Somasegar said. “From Windows Azure and SQL Server to Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8, Visual Studio 2013 supports the breadth of Microsoft’s developer platforms.”

    As part of Microsoft’s Cloud OS vision, Visual Studio 2013 enables developers to build modern business applications that take advantage of the cloud and target a variety of devices and end-user experiences, all delivered within today’s rapid and dynamic application lifecycles.

  • Microsoft Ventures makes first investment: SkyGiraffe

    On Tuesday, it was announced that Microsoft Ventures has made its first seed-stage investment: Tel Aviv, Israel-based SkyGiraffe.

    “SkyGiraffe provides a SaaS platform that helps businesses deploy enterprise-grade mobile applications on any device immediately and without the need for writing code,” writes Raul Sood, general manager of Microsoft Ventures, in a post over on the Microsoft Ventures Blog.

  • Join Microsoft in the 'Hour of Code' campaign

    The following post is from Brad Smith, General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Legal & Corporate Affairs at Microsoft.


    2013_10_14_CodeOrg-20

    Abril Vela started her final year of high school like a lot of other seniors – giving a lot of thought to what she wants to do after she graduates. Thanks to technology-oriented programs like DigiGirlz, a Microsoft YouthSpark program, and educators who have mentored her over the years, Abril plans to follow her passion and become a computer engineer.

    This fall, we want to help make 10 million more moments like hers happen during Computer Science Education week. For this reason, Microsoft on Monday joined Code.org in announcing a nationwide campaign urging schools, teachers and parents across the country to participate in the “Hour of Code” Initiative. Held during Computer Science Education Week (Dec. 9 to Dec. 15), this initiative will help introduce more than 10 million students to computer programming and the exciting careers of the future.

  • Microsoft announces Windows Phone 8 Update 3 and new Windows Phone Developer Preview

    Windows Phone 8 Update 3 will roll out to existing phones over the next several months, bringing with it a bevy of improvements and new capabilities.

    Also announced Monday was the Windows Phone Developer Preview, which allows developers to get pre-release builds of Windows Phone updates on your dev phones before they are generally available to consumers.

    Some of the new features included in Windows Phone Update 3 include a bigger Start screen for more Live Tiles (pictured left), a new, customizable Driving Mode and better accessibility options.

    According to the Windows Phone Blog, “the new update paves the way for future Windows Phone devices with 5- and 6-inch touch screens. The larger, 1080p HD displays on these devices will make Windows Phone even more personal—for example by sporting jumbo-sized Start screens with room for six Live Tiles across instead of four.”

    Also, Windows Phone 8 Update 3 will provide support for Qualcomm’s 8974 quad-core processor. The added horsepower that this chip delivers should make our already-fluid operating system perform even better.

  • Weekend Reading: October 11th Edition–Exclusive interviews with the folks behind big Xbox titles

    In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on interviews that shed light on top Xbox games, the launch of a new wave of enterprise cloud products and services, and major updates to apps for social networking powerhouses.

    The Xbox world was abuzz with interviews of people behind top games. For fans of “FIFA 14,” there’s an Xbox Wire exclusive interview with the game’s producer, Santiago Jaramillo. NFL followers will probably enjoy the Xbox Wire exclusive interview with “Madden NFL 25” producer Seann Graddy and designer Brad Lippmanushers – as well as the video below, which showcases the new CoachGlass companion app that works with SmartGlass. And those who are looking forward to “Tom Clancy’s The Division” will get some scoops through the Xbox Wire interview with Massive Entertainment’s Fredrik Rundqvist, executive producer, and Ryan Barnard, game director.

  • Mirror, mirror on the wall (at the Seattle Art Museum)

    In this episode of “On the Whiteboard,” Editor Pamela Woon takes you to a permanent video art installation at the Seattle Art Museum. Powered by Windows Server, it gives onlookers a constantly changing reflection of the city around them through pre-recorded video scenes of the urban landscape.

  • The Enterprise Cloud takes center stage

    Updated Screengrab for Satya OMB blog

    The following post is from Satya Nadella, Executive Vice President, Cloud and Enterprise at Microsoft.


    Today as we launch our fall wave of enterprise cloud products and services, I’ve been reflecting on how things change. A few years ago when I joined what was then the Server and Tools Business, I had the opportunity to talk to financial analysts about our business. Interestingly, after I covered the trends and trajectory of a $19 billion business – what would independently be one of the top three software companies in the world – there were no questions. Zero.

    Well, recently that has changed. As of late, there has been a lot of interest in what I call the commercial business, which spans nearly every area of enterprise IT and represents about 58 percent of Microsoft’s total revenue. It’s a critical business for us, with great momentum and one to which we are incredibly committed.

  • Microsoft publishes its Annual Citizenship Report for fiscal year 2013

    The following post is from Lori Forte Harnick, General Manager, Citizenship & Public Affairs, Microsoft


    Microsoft’s corporate mission is to help businesses and people around the world realize their full potential. On Monday, we released the 2013 Citizenship Report, which describes our citizenship work in support of our company’s mission during the last fiscal year and shares our vision for what’s to come.

    Together with our annual financial report, which was also released Monday, it provides a full accounting of our fiscal and citizenship priorities and performance.

    Here are a few highlights:

    · Fiscal year 2013 was a significant one for Microsoft Citizenship, as we focused our philanthropic work on providing education, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities to youth around the world. Our goal is to reach 300 million youth, over three years, through the Microsoft YouthSpark initiative. In our first year, the initiative created opportunities for more than 103 million youth to imagine and build a better future for themselves and their communities.

    · Microsoft donates an average $2 million a day in software donations to nonprofits around the world, making it easier for them to do more good in their communities.

  • Technology means growth: Lessons from SMEs

    The following post is from Orlando Ayala, chairman of emerging markets at Microsoft.


    It is widely known that small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) play an important role in the vitality of local economies around the globe. I was recently reminded just how important SMEs are as growth engines of our economies.

    Microsoft commissioned The Boston Consulting Group to conduct an independent study, which surveyed more than 4,000 SMEs in five of the world's largest and most diverse economies: the United States, Germany, China, India and Brazil. The objective was to look at the economic impact of IT on small businesses today.

    The study found that tech-savvy SMEs outperformed SMEs using little technology in innovation, job growth and increased revenues over the last three years. SME leaders using technology have grown their businesses and reduced costs, and one important factor seems to be increased worker productivity. According to BCG, if 15 percent of those SMEs that use little technology and 30 percent of SMEs who use moderate amounts of technology adopted the latest IT tools, they could boost their combined revenues by $770 billion and create more than 6 million new jobs in just those five markets combined. Who can afford to leave $770 billion on the table?

  • Weekend Reading: October 4th Edition–Delta equipping 11,000 pilots with Surface 2

    In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on customers such as Delta, which is giving 11,000 of its pilots Surface 2 tablets; an innovative collaboration between Xbox One and Microsoft Research; and Windows Azure cloud services achieving a critical federal security milestone.

    Monday’s announcement that Delta is equipping 11,000 pilots with Surface 2 is just one of several companies in fields from banking to sales to education turning to Microsoft’s tablets. The Delta pilots will find a much lighter load with the Surface 2 electronic flight bag devices, which will be filled with thousands of pages of easily accessible electronic documents, charts, navigational aids, checklists and other key reference materials previously kept in heavy flight bags. Other businesses and organizations that have chosen Surface tablets include Hokkoku Bank, The London School of Business & Finance and Novartis. In a blog post on Wednesday, Surface General Manager Brian Hall reported the pre-order stock of several Surface 2 products are selling out – or close to it.

  • Collaboration, expertise produce enhanced sensing in Xbox One

    A Silicon Valley-based hardware team collaborated with Microsoft Research to overcome technological hurdles with the new time-of-flight sensing camera in Xbox One.


    Cyrus Bamji had encountered a challenge. Luckily for him, Microsoft Research had just the solution.

    Bamji, Microsoft partner hardware architect for Microsoft’s Silicon Valley-based Architecture and Silicon Management group, and members of his team were trying to incorporate a time-of-flight camera into Xbox One, the successor to the wildly popular Xbox 360.

    A time-of-flight camera emits light signals and then measures how long it takes them to return. That needs to be accurate to 1/10,000,000,000 of a second—remember, we’re talking the speed of light here. With such measurements, the camera is able to differentiate light reflecting from objects in a room and the surrounding environment. That provides an accurate depth estimation that enables the shape of those objects to be computed.