The Official Microsoft Blog

News & Perspectives

January, 2014

  • Weekend Reading: Jan. 31st Edition—Get ready for Sunday’s big game with apps, videos and Bing searches

    In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on apps and other ways to get ready for Sunday’s big game, Seattle Gigapixel ArtZoom (an interactive city panorama created by a Microsoft Research team) and an artist who’s found that the Surface 2 hits the sweet spot for work, school and her literacy projects in Cambodia.

    The biggest game in U.S. pro football is Sunday, and various apps, promotions and tools are available to help you prepare for it. In a video, “Madden NFL 25” predicted the victor of Sunday’s matchup. The Windows Store has on its roster a collection of apps dedicated to The Big Game, including the Super Bowl XLVIII – NFL Official Program, which has all the content from this year’s official commemorative program, enhanced for tablets: team information, player profiles, stats and much more when it comes to the NFC and AFC champions. Also good resources: Football Pro+, The ESPN App, NFL Connect and the Windows Phone Store’s Big Game collection. Microsoft’s Power BI team showed their 12thMan spirit by creating a video from publicly available data and highlights from each of the Seahawks’ games across the country, a journey that began Sept. 8. Heading into the final days before Sunday’s much anticipated match-up, Bing looked at searches related to the game and we found out about the “Beast Quake” felt 'round world thanks to Windows Azure. If you happen to be in Manhattan this weekend, Xbox is offering free short rides via Uber. And you can also look forward to winning tickets to the next national championship by making your Player Face Off picks now using NFL on Xbox One app.

  • Microsoft contributes cloud server designs to the Open Compute Project

    The following post is from Bill Laing, Corporate Vice President, Cloud & Enterprise, Microsoft.


    On Tuesday, I will deliver a keynote address to 3,000 attendees at the Open Compute Project (OCP) Summit in San Jose, Calif. where I will announce that Microsoft is joining the OCP, a community focused on engineering the most efficient hardware for cloud and high-scale computing via open collaboration. I will also announce that we are contributing to the OCP what we call the Microsoft cloud server specification: the designs for the most advanced server hardware in Microsoft datacenters delivering global cloud services like Windows Azure, Office 365, Bing and others. We are excited to participate in the OCP community and share our cloud innovation with the industry in order to foster more efficient datacenters and the adoption of cloud computing.

    The Microsoft cloud server specification essentially provides the blueprints for the datacenter servers we have designed to deliver the world’s most diverse portfolio of cloud services. These servers are optimized for Windows Server software and built to handle the enormous availability, scalability and efficiency requirements of Windows Azure, our global cloud platform. They offer dramatic improvements over traditional enterprise server designs: up to 40 percent server cost savings, 15 percent power efficiency gains and 50 percent reduction in deployment and service times. We also expect this server design to contribute to our environmental sustainability efforts by reducing network cabling by 1,100 miles and metal by 10,000 tons across our base of 1 million servers.

  • Microsoft announces SkyDrive will soon be renamed OneDrive

    SkyDrive, Microsoft’s cloud file storage program, will be getting a name change to OneDrive, reports Ryan Gavin, Consumer Apps & Services general manager.

    The new name “conveys the value we can deliver for you and best represents our vision for the future,” he wrote in a blog post. “That vision reflects the fact that you will have many devices in your life, but you really want only one place for your most important stuff. One place for all of your photos and videos. One place for all of your documents. One place that is seamlessly connected across the devices you love.”

  • Weekend Reading: Jan. 24th Edition – Kinect for Windows is helping stroke victims, Microsoft’s datacenter project will use fuel cells and Zippo chooses Microsoft Dynamics AX

    In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories about Kinect for Windows helping stroke victims, Microsoft’s Data Center plant project in Wyoming looking to bring a power plant inside the datacenter, and historic company Zippo Manufacturing Co. planning for the future using Microsoft Dynamics AX.

    Kinect for Windows, already used in physical rehabilitation, is being used by different research teams to help stroke victims. One team in Canada, the other a collaborative team of Microsoft and academic researchers in Asia, are working on separate projects to help stroke victims accelerate recovery and increase adherence to rehab with interactive, game-like exercises that use Kinect for Windows motion capture technology. A key benefit of the approach is that patients are more likely to do their prescribed exercises, since 65 percent fail to follow their rehabilitation regimens, writes Shawn Errunza of Jintronix, a Montreal-based medical technology startup.

  • Personal technology is changing lives around the world – what we learned from talking to 10,000 people in 10 countries

    The following post is from Mark Penn, Executive Vice President, Advertising & Strategy, Microsoft.


     This week I am in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum, where I am releasing the results of a Microsoft survey of 10,000 Internet users in 10 countries. As someone who listens carefully to consumers in order to ensure Microsoft communicates about its products and services as effectively as possible, I wanted to understand how personal technology is being viewed today around the globe.

    In both the developed and the developing economies we surveyed, people overwhelmingly told us that personal technology is transforming their lives in a variety of sectors, including business, education, transportation, social bonds, arts and culture and other areas. Each country may prioritize differently the sector they feel has benefited most, but all agree that personal technology has made important changes possible.

    Chinese citizens, for example, say that personal technology has positively impacted personal freedom more than people in any other country surveyed. Developing countries – especially India – say that personal technology is improving education and health as well as healthcare. Brazil says that personal technology has had a strong impact on arts and culture. China and India say that their quality of life has improved due to personal technology.

  • Designing Xbox One: The inside story

    On a frigid Thursday evening last November, writer Jennifer Warnick lined up at the Microsoft Store in Seattle for the midnight launch of Xbox One. Consumers would buy over a million consoles in the next 24 hours – but Warnick was among the lucky few to share the moment with Carl Ledbetter, the guy who designed it.

  • Smart contact lenses emerge from basic research

    The following post is from Desney Tan, a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research. Tan manages the Computational User Experiences group in Redmond, Wash. He also holds an affiliate faculty appointment in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington.


    Get Microsoft Silverlight

    Yesterday, my long-time friends and colleagues Babak Parviz and Brian Otis announced on the Google blog their intent to develop a glucose-sensing contact lens. I’m not usually a blogger, but given that my inbox and voicemail are stuffed with calls for comments and queries about the relationship of this project to the one Microsoft Research worked on with Babak and Brian a few years ago, I thought I’d use this forum to provide my perspective.

  • Weekend Reading: Jan. 17th Edition— Microsoft devices and services open new doors at the National Retail Federation convention

    In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on Microsoft’s presence at the National Retail Federation convention, the company’s partnership with GoDaddy and how Office 365 is among the services companies such as RCS MediaGroup and Coles are using to modernize communications infrastructures and keep mobile employees plugged in.

    More than 30,000 retailers from around the world recently packed New York City’s Javits Center for the National Retail Federation’s Annual Convention and Expo (aka “Retail’s Big Show”). To stand out amongst 500 vendors in an exhibit space covering nearly four football fields, it helps if your demo includes the Microsoft Kinect for Windows sensor and SDK. The NRF was prime ground to show how Windows devices can engage customers and open new doors for retailers. NEC Corporation of America, Razorfish and FaceCake gave attendees Kinect experiences that stood out on the exhibit floor. Microsoft and Accenture demonstrated the “Connected Fitting Room”; while a point-of-service solution based on Windows Embedded showed how businesses can use off-the-shelf-hardware to simplify customer service and business operations. New Microsoft partners AnywhereCommerce and MagTek offer suites of hardware, software and gateway solutions for secure online and mobile transactions for retailers using Surface.

  • NPD numbers: Xbox One leads in December

     December NPD Group figures released Thursday revealed Xbox One was the No. 1 selling console in the market in the U.S., selling 908,000 units in December. Additionally, Xbox 360 continued to see strong momentum with 643,000 units sold in December, putting it in the No. 3 spot overall, and lead for last-generation hardware. Together, Xbox One and Xbox 360 held 46 percent of the hardware market share in the U.S. and showed a 10 percent year over year growth from December 2012.

    “We’re grateful for the excitement and support of our fans – many purchasing their next Xbox console and many joining the Xbox family for the first time,” said Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of marketing, strategy and business for Xbox. “Our journey is just starting, with more innovation, games and entertainment coming in 2014 and far beyond.”

  • Build 2014 registration is now open

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


    Last month, we announced that Build 2014 will be back at the Moscone Center in San Francisco from April 2 to April 4. Hopefully you’ve saved the date on your calendar, because registration is now open at www.buildwindows.com

    Build is our premier developer event, targeted at people who want to create experiences that span PC, tablet, phone, console, server and cloud, and at this year’s event we will share what is coming for Windows, Windows Phone, Windows Azure, Windows Server, Xbox, Visual Studio and more.

  • Weekend Reading: Jan. 10th Edition – New Windows devices unveiled at CES 2014 and Xbox One sales hit 3M consoles sold

    Gavin-With-Panasonic-4K-Tablet

    Gavin Gear, of the Extreme Windows Blog, with Panasonic’s 20-inch Toughpad 4k tablet at the Consumer Electronics Show.

    In this edition of Weekend Reading, we look at some of the exciting new PCs and tablets unveiled this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the Xbox One reaching a 3 million consoles sold milestone and Microsoft announcing its agreement to acquire Parature, a leading provider of cloud-based customer engagement solutions.

    At CES 2014, Windows tablets, laptops and desktops in every shape and size, including some with 4K resolution, were announced. We heard a lot about 4K TVs at the show, but two companies previewed Windows devices with 4k, in which display resolution is 4,000 pixels, about four times more than HD. Panasonic showed its 20-inch Toughpad 4K tablet, available next month, and the first 4K tablet on the market. At 5.6 pounds, it’s a great mobile choice for pros who deal with computer-aided design and video editing. At the other end of the size spectrum, it showed off its 7-inch Toughpad FZ-M1 with Windows 8.1 Pro. Meanwhile, Toshiba introduced the first 4K laptops, the Tecra W50 and the Satellite P50t, which should be on the market in the second quarter this year. Among Lenovo’s many new offerings: its ThinkPad 8, an 8-inch business tablet made from machine-cut aluminum, and a new X1 Carbon 14-inch Ultrabook, weighing 2.8 pounds with a battery life of up to nine hours. It will be available late this month. HP’s new all-in-one PCs, the ProOne 400 G1 and the HP 205, are great choices for the workplace. ASUS will be releasing a new 8-inch tablet called the VivoTab Note 8 that’s designed for one-handed use and comes with a professional Wacom digitizer stylus. Sony introduced a new member of its VAIO Fit | Flip family, the VAIO Fit 11A | Flip PC, an 11-inch version that weighs 2.82 pounds and is ideal for those who want a highly portable 2-in-1. It will be out at the end of next month.

  • Three things retailers need to do now to transform their businesses with technology

    The following post is from Susan Hauser, Corporate Vice President, Enterprise and Partner Group, Microsoft.


    Next week at the National Retail Federation Big Show (NRF), Microsoft will show how technology is changing the retail industry and outline three things retailers need to do to take advantage of those technological innovations. While at NRF, we will also showcase a number of customers making big bets on the Microsoft platform as well as a number of new product offerings aimed at transforming the way retailers engage with their customers. A number of our partners will also unveil new applications and services built using Microsoft technologies.

    Never before have there been such dramatic shifts in consumer shopping behavior, preferences and expectations. Technology is influencing these changes and enabling consumers to access information through online channels, apps and mobile devices. Here are three things the world’s leading retailers need to do to transform their businesses using technology:

    Create unified experiences across connected devices. The proliferation of devices creates opportunities for retailers to think about their use in a different way. For example, we have retailers who are changing the fitting room experience and others who are enabling customers to buy online, while in the store – all through the use of devices.

  • Xbox One sales top 3 million

    Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of Xbox strategy and marketing, thanked customers for an “epic 2013,” in an Xbox Wire post on Monday. “2013 was an incredible year for gamers, entertainment fans, our industry and Xbox,” Mehdi said. “With Xbox One we saw the most epic launch for Xbox by all measures. We are humbled and grateful for your loyalty and delighted by the millions of hours of gameplay and entertainment enjoyed on Xbox.”  

    More than three million Xbox One consoles were sold to consumers in 13 countries before the end of 2013, he noted. “It’s been incredible to see Xbox One selling at a record-setting pace for Xbox, and we were honored to see Xbox One become the fastest-selling console in the U.S. during our launch month in November.”

  • Devices, services and moments

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


    As is common during the holiday and New Year season, I find myself in a reflective mood. But oddly enough, I’m not drawn to reflecting on the past 365 days, but simply one of them. The day I’m thinking of was a normal one, not that unlike the other 364 that surrounded it. In fact, the only remarkable thing that happened was that I happened to pause at the end of it and take note of how the extraordinary has become ordinary.

    I woke up, scanned the headlines, checked the sports scores, and looked for Tweets that would enrage me. Did some mail, went for a jog, commuted to work, had some meetings. Drove to the airport, flew to San Francisco, had some more meetings and grabbed dinner. Then I checked into my hotel, called home, said goodnight to my daughter and did some work before going to bed. Like I said, pretty standard stuff.

    But what I took note of at the end of that day was how the technology I used kept up with me, enabling me to make the most of any moment I was in. It didn’t matter whether the moment was personal, professional, at home or in a hotel, driving a car or riding in a plane, working alone, or with a team.