The Official Microsoft Blog

News & Perspectives

December, 2013

  • The NFL on Xbox One and Surface: Your own personal gridiron

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    Quarterbacks rely on receiving a reliable snap as the first step toward a first down – and eventually a touchdown – every time they run a play. Now with the recently released Xbox One, armchair quarterbacks around the country have a true game-changer: being able to “snap” official NFL highlights, stats, news and scores – along with fantasy football – next to live TV broadcasts of NFL games. And with Surfacethe official tablet of the NFL – fans have a device that, at their fingertips, gives lightning fast responses as they blitz through apps like Xbox SmartGlass, NFL Mobile and NFL Game Rewind.

  • Celebrating bravery in 2013

    The following post is from Kathleen Hall, General Manager – Global Advertising, Microsoft.


    New Year's Eve brings with it some fun, some reflection and often resolutions to do better next year. It's a time when we recall everything from the top stories that changed the world to the top chatter that lit up our social networks. No one event dominated 2013, as a mix of trials, international conflicts and health care were among the top stories and most searched events of 2013. We also lost some dear people. That said, in many ways, 2013 was a year of important progress. In technology for example, more people than ever used personal technology to improve and empower their lives in new ways.

    At Microsoft this year, as part of our "Honestly" marketing campaign, we had the privilege of showcasing a very special song, Sara Bareilles's "Brave." The ads featured how people make decisions in technology as part of their everyday life, whether they be a teacher, an accountant or a paramedic.

  • Weekend Reading: Dec. 20th Edition–‘Biggest holiday season yet’ for Windows Phone and Windows Store apps

    In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on the momentum building behind Windows Store and Windows Phone Store app downloads, how Bing broke out of the (search) box in 2013 and a Microsoft researcher who uses data to power his predictions.

    Buoyed by new gift cards and other promotions, as well as the “biggest holiday season yet,” app development for the Windows Phone Store and Windows Store is going strong. “We’re already seeing momentum build with the (Windows) Store surpassing 12 million transactions per day and Windows Phone Store surpassing 200,000 apps,” writes Todd Brix on the Windows Phone Developers Blog, who encouraged developers to finish and update apps to meet these demands. “Taking into consideration the Microsoft and partner promotions and consumer purchase of Microsoft and Xbox gift cards in retail locations, we are forecasting over $100 million to be available for consumers to buy apps and games this holiday season across 100 retailers in 41 markets.” Some apps and games we highlighted this week include the NORAD Tracks Santa apps, the Staff App Pick: American Airlines and LiveATC, the Amtrak app, Phriz.be, the Gameloft Games collection, “Girls Like Robots,” “Subway Surfers,” “Nemo’s Reef,” Zinio, “Avengers Alliance,” Viber, “Catan” and “Riptide GP2.” To show that you don’t have to be a professional developer to get in on the action, small business owner Holly Shore created her mobile app within hours with Windows Phone App Studio.

  • Microsoft celebrates 83 retail stores in 2013 with more on the way

    The following post is from Jonathan Adashek, General Manager, Communications Strategy, Sales & Marketing Services Group, Microsoft. It was originally published on The Fire Hose.


    It’s been another significant year for Microsoft retail stores, and we’re proud to continue to offer our customers the choice, value and service they have come to expect from our stores. Over the past 12 months, we opened 35 stores and now have 83 full-line and specialty stores open across North America. We have welcomed more than 362 million customers to our full-line, specialty and online Microsoft Store properties in more than 200 markets worldwide.

  • ZeroAccess criminals wave white flag: The impact of partnerships on cybercrime

    The following is a post from Richard Domingues Boscovich, Assistant General Counsel, Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit.


    Two weeks after Microsoft filed its civil case in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas against the notorious Sirefef botnet, also known ZeroAccess, I am pleased to report that our disruption effort has been successful, and it appears that the criminals have abandoned their botnet. As a result, last week Microsoft requested that the court close the civil case in order to allow law enforcement to continue their investigative efforts in the matter.

    As stated at the outset of this disruption effort, Microsoft and its partners did not expect to fully eliminate the ZeroAccess botnet because of the complexity of the threat. Rather, our focus was to protect people by cleaning the computers infected with the malware so they could no longer be used for harm. As we expected, less than 24 hours after our disruptive action, the cybercriminals pushed out new instructions to the ZeroAccess-infected computers in order to continue their fraud schemes. However, because we were monitoring their actions and able to identify new Internet Protocol (IP) addresses the criminals were using to commit their crimes, Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) took immediate action to coordinate with member country law enforcement agencies, led by Germany’s Bundeskriminalamt’s (BKA) Cyber Intelligence Unit, to quickly track down those new fraud IP addresses.

  • Microsoft board of directors update on CEO search

    The following post is from John W. Thompson, a member of Microsoft’s board of directors.


    On Aug. 23, we announced that Steve Ballmer would be retiring from Microsoft within 12 months, and the Board of Directors was launching a search for a replacement, looking both externally and internally. Since then, we’ve been focused on finding the best possible person to lead the company. As we approach the end of the calendar year, there has been natural interest in getting an update on where we are in the process. I’m writing to share this with you here.

    As the chair of the Board’s search committee, I’m pleased with our progress. The Board has taken the thoughtful approach that our shareholders, customers, partners and employees expect and deserve. After defining our criteria, we initially cast a wide net across a number of different industries and skill sets. We identified over 100 possible candidates, talked with several dozen, and then focused our energy intensely on a group of about 20 individuals, all extremely impressive in their own right. As you would expect, as this group has narrowed, we’ve done deeper research and investigation, including with the full Board. We’re moving ahead well, and I expect we’ll complete our work in the early part of 2014.

  • Former Microsoft executive tapped by White House to run HealthCare.gov site

    Kurt DelBene, a former Microsoft executive, has been named senior advisor to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and will lead and manage HealthCare.gov, the federal government’s health insurance website, in his new role.

    DelBene recently retired from Microsoft after two decades of leading large, technical teams at the company, including being president of the Microsoft Business Division, general manager of Microsoft Outlook and group manager of Microsoft Exchange.

  • Here are David Rothschild’s data-powered predictions for 2014, from the Super Bowl to Hillary Clinton

    Microsoft researcher David Rothschild is legendary for his ability to literally predict the future using a unique and rigorous approach to data analysis. He correctly called the results of the 2012 presidential election in every state but one. He nailed 19 of the 24 Oscar categories this past year. And he’s constantly pushing the boundaries of predictive science through experimental live pollingonline prediction games and more.

    In this interview, David Rothschild tells you what to expect in 2014, breaks down his forecasting philosophy, and explains why you should trust professional gamblers more than cable news pundits. 

    Steve Wiens: So obviously you’re pretty good at this. What’s your secret sauce? 

    David Rothschild: I use a lot of publicly available data – gambling markets, polls, social media data and other online data. But I’m also lucky to have access to a large treasure trove of historical data at Microsoft that I use in order to understand the correlation between different inputs and outputs, things that we care about, as well as an infrastructure that allows me to gather that data continuously and continuously update it. I really owe a lot to Microsoft and my colleagues.

  • Mark your calendars: Announcing Build 2014

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


    It seems like we were just gathered in San Francisco for Build 2013 and yet a lot has happened since that time. Windows 8.1 is in the hands of consumers and there is a great selection of new devices at all sizes and price points coming in time for the holidays. Last month, we released Xbox One and sold more than two million units in the first 18 days. And we continue to see the addition of great new apps, with differentiated user experiences, coming to the platform from top names such as Flipboard, Instagram, Waze, Vine and Mint alongside thousands of local apps growing every day.

    The momentum just keeps building and that is why I’m so excited to announce our next developer conference, Build 2014, which will take place April 2 to April 4 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Save the date and mark your calendar for registration, which opens at 9 a.m. PT on Jan. 14 at www.buildwindows.com.

  • Weekend Reading: Dec. 13th Edition – Microsoft introduces the Cloud OS Network

    In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on Microsoft’s new Cloud OS Network, Xbox One sales and a gift guide for goodies under 100 bucks to help you get through the holidays.

    On Thursday, Microsoft introduced the Cloud OS Network, a worldwide group of more than 25 leading cloud service providers who have embraced our Cloud OS vision and will deliver hosted services built on the Microsoft Cloud Platform, which includes Windows Server with Hyper-V, System Center and the Windows Azure Pack. To get the rest of the story, read this post on The Official Microsoft Blog from Takeshi Numoto, corporate vice president of Cloud and Enterprise Marketing, and watch the video below.

  • NPD numbers: Xbox One is the fastest-selling console in the US in November

    Xbox has seen record-breaking sales with the recent announcement of Xbox One selling more than 2 million units through to consumers worldwide since its launch. November NPD Group figures released Thursday revealed 909,132 Xbox One units were sold in the U.S. in the console’s first nine days, making it the fastest selling console on the market in the U.S. Xbox One sales averaged a volume of 101,000 consoles per day, significantly outpacing the nearest competitor.

  • Service Providers light up the Cloud OS

    The following post is from Takeshi Numoto, Corporate Vice President, Cloud and Enterprise Marketing, Microsoft.


    Today, Microsoft introduced the Cloud OS Network, a worldwide group of more than 25 leading cloud service providers who have embraced our Cloud OS vision and will deliver hosted services built on the Microsoft Cloud Platform, which includes Windows Server with Hyper-V, System Center and the Windows Azure Pack. This announcement represents important progress against our goals and strategy for Cloud OS. More importantly, it is great news for enterprise customers across the globe.

  • Xbox One sells more than 2 million units in the first 18 days; Sold out at most major retailers

    Since its launch 18 days ago, Xbox One is proving to be the must-have gift this holiday season, with more than 2 million consoles sold through to consumers worldwide, averaging over 111,111 units sold per day – a record-setting pace for Xbox. The millions of fans around the world who have purchased Xbox One have shown incredible engagement with the all-in-one games and entertainment system, spending more than 83 million hours in games, TV and apps on Xbox One since the system launched on Nov. 22.

    “We continue to be humbled and overwhelmed by the positive response from our fans,” said Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of strategy and marketing for Xbox. “We are thrilled to see sales of Xbox One on a record-setting pace, with over 2 million Xbox One consoles in homes around the world. Demand is exceeding supply in our 13 launch markets and Xbox One is sold out at most retailers. We’re also particularly excited to see consumers engaging in a wide range of games and entertainment experiences on the platform, with more than 1 million paid transactions on Xbox Live to date.”

  • First prize for Nobel Media’s scalable and reliable website, run on Windows Azure

    Mattias Fyrenius, CEO of Nobel Media, and Richard Lind, director of Technology and Platforms at Microsoft Sweden, tell us more about the collaboration and future plans in the video above.

    With the Nobel Prizes awarded Tuesday, the Nobel organization’s website is being inundated with visitors from around the globe who want to read all the details.

    Every year, the world is watching when Nobel Prizes are awarded to leading figures that are changing the world for the better.  When the prestigious Laureates are announced in October and when they receive their prizes in December, the Nobel Prize website sees a 100 fold increase in visitors – taking traffic up to as many as 3 million hits in just one week. 

  • LeWeb’13 and ‘The Next 10 Years’: The digitization of nearly everything

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


    On Tuesday at LeWeb’13 in Paris, I joined Om Malik on stage to talk with thousands of entrepreneurs, startups and large companies about technology and where we’re headed as an industry. The theme of this year’s conference is The Next 10 Years, and we spent our time talking about the new ideas we see from startups around the world and how their work is shaping the future.

    Today software intermediates — and digitizes — many of the things we do in business, life and our world. New technologies help businesses engage with customers in more meaningful ways, connect us to our friends and families, and allow us to see, interact with and share our world in ways never before possible. But we’re only at the beginning.

  • New security features added to Microsoft accounts

    The following post is from Eric Doerr, Group Program Manager, Microsoft Account.


    We’re excited to announce that over the next couple of days we’re rolling out a few new capabilities – based on your ongoing feedback – that give you more visibility and control of your Microsoft account.

    Last April we announced the release of two-step verification to the more than 700 million people around the world who use a Microsoft account.

    This is an important capability that allows any of our customers – whether they use a Windows PC or Windows Phone device, Outlook.com, SkyDrive, Xbox and more services – to add an additional layer of access control to their account. In the eight months since we released this feature, we’ve seen impressive adoption. Every day, thousands more users enable this extra protection for their account. We’re also delighted to see that customers who have turned on two-step verification are less likely to experience illegal activities with their accounts. If you have not yet activated two-step verification, we highly recommend you do.

  • Computer Science Education Week begins Monday – Join us in an ‘Hour of Code’

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


    Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek) is an important moment for everyone, especially youth, to learn how the ability to code can open doors to future careers in unexpected ways. One of the activities I am most excited about is the “Hour of Code” campaign. In partnership with Code.org and other leading tech companies, Microsoft is encouraging 10 million students of all ages to spend an hour this week learning basic coding skills, while hopefully having some fun in the process.

    Among many activities to help get kids started this week, everyone is invited to join us at a Microsoft store where employees will be offering free coding lessons on Kodu Game Lab and TouchDevelop. We’re also partnering on and hosting various other coding events across the country from Washington, D.C. to Silicon Valley.

    Right now, less than 2.4 percent of college students graduate with a degree in computer science, yet computer programming jobs are growing at twice the national average and are among the top paying fields.

  • Reforming government surveillance

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


    Today, we are joining AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter and Yahoo in calling for reforms of government surveillance.

    Since Microsoft was founded, we’ve believed technology is a powerful tool that can help people. In that belief we remain steadfast.

    But we also recognize another important point. People won’t use technology they don’t trust. Governments have put this trust at risk, and governments need to help restore it.

    Last week we announced that we’re taking new steps to reduce the risk of government snooping. Today we’re joining with others across our industry to call on governments to adhere to specific principles with respect to surveillance.

  • Students everywhere count down the hours to ‘Hour of Code’

    It’s just one hour. But it’s an hour that could change young lives forever, and help guide them to a better future. That’s why Microsoft is challenging as many young people as possible to participate in the “Hour of Code” during Computer Science Education Week, Dec. 9-15.

    “Hour of Code” is an introduction to computer science, and if those two words – “computer science” – scare or intrigue you, consider taking part. “Hour of Code” is aimed at demystifying “code” and showing that anyone can learn the basics. Anyone. (Yes, adults, you are absolutely encouraged to participate, too!)

  • Weekend Reading: Dec. 6th Edition – Microsoft stands up for customer privacy

    In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on Microsoft’s role in protecting customer data, how 150,000 students, administrators and staff members in Canada have started using Office 365 and Microsoft Research’s first Artist in Residence.

    Brad Smith, general counsel and executive vice president of Microsoft’s Legal & Corporate Affairs, wrote about how “many of our customers have serious concerns about government surveillance of the Internet.” He added, “We share their concerns. That’s why we are taking steps to ensure governments use legal process rather than technological brute force to access customer data. Like many others, we are especially alarmed by recent allegations in the press of a broader and concerted effort by some governments to circumvent online security measures – and in our view, legal processes and protections – in order to surreptitiously collect private customer data.”

  • Microsoft, Europol, FBI and industry partners disrupt notorious ZeroAccess botnet that hijacks search results

    The following is a post from Richard Domingues Boscovich, Assistant General Counsel, Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit.


    For the third time this year, Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit has successfully disrupted a dangerous botnet that has impacted millions of innocent people. Today, we’re pleased to announce that Microsoft, in conjunction with Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), the Federal Bureau of Investigation and technology industry leaders such as A10 Networks, has taken action against the rampant Sirefef botnet, also known as ZeroAccess. The ZeroAccess botnet has infected nearly two million computers all over the world and cost online advertisers upwards of $2.7 million each month.

  • Protecting customer data from government snooping

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


    Many of our customers have serious concerns about government surveillance of the Internet.

    We share their concerns. That’s why we are taking steps to ensure governments use legal process rather than technological brute force to access customer data.

    Like many others, we are especially alarmed by recent allegations in the press of a broader and concerted effort by some governments to circumvent online security measures – and in our view, legal processes and protections – in order to surreptitiously collect private customer data. In particular, recent press stories have reported allegations of governmental interception and collection – without search warrants or legal subpoenas – of customer data as it travels between customers and servers or between company data centers in our industry.

    If true, these efforts threaten to seriously undermine confidence in the security and privacy of online communications. Indeed, government snooping potentially now constitutes an “advanced persistent threat,” alongside sophisticated malware and cyber attacks.

  • Windows Azure Services coming to Brazil

    On Wednesday, Microsoft announced it will invest in the development of a new Windows Azure region in Brazil. The investment represents an important step in the company’s cloud expansion strategy and its commitment to the country and Latin America.

    Worldwide, Windows Azure is currently available in 89 countries and 19 currencies, and Microsoft will expand this into Brazil in the first half of 2014. As Steven Martin, general manager of Windows Azure, says in a post over on the Windows Azure Blog, the Windows Azure Brazil Region will provide better performance for local companies through reduced latency. Additionally, customers will be able to opt for Locally Redundant Storage (LRS), which will maintain three copies of their data in Brazil, preserving data residency.

  • Office 365 makes the grade with Canada’s second-largest public school system

    On Wednesday, Microsoft announced that Canada’s second-largest public school board – the Peel District School Board – has deployed Microsoft Office 365 to more than 150,000 students, administrators and staff members.

    “The launch provides the district with the capabilities once reserved for the world’s largest corporations and, according to a recent IDC study, allows the board to give students the technology needed to gain the third most-valued skill, Microsoft Office proficiency, for the high-growth, high-wage jobs of the future,” according to a press release over on the Microsoft News Center.

    The district considered offerings from other companies, but chose Office 365 because it supports multiple operating systems and mobile platforms, thereby supporting the district’s bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiative.

  • NORAD Tracks Santa project goes 3D, touch-device optimized with some help from Microsoft

    The following post is from Roger Capriotti, senior director of product marketing, Microsoft. It was originally published on The Fire Hose.


     The redesigned homepage for NORAD Tracks Santa.

    The redesigned homepage for NORAD Tracks Santa.

    Every December, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (“NORAD”) serves the important role of ensuring that Santa’s journey around the world is safe. Since 1955, children of all ages have tracked his route with the help of NORAD’s radar, satellites and jet fighters. This year, Microsoft has lent a hand to make the experience the most magical yet, putting a fresh spin on the time-honored tradition with the launch of the new www.NORADSanta.org.

    This isn’t the first time Microsoft has worked with NORAD Tracks Santa. Last year, we provided our interactive Bing Maps to give people at home an interactive visual of Santa’s whereabouts on Christmas Eve, which was powered by Windows Azure, as well as apps for Windows and Windows Phone that allowed people a platform to play and learn.