November, 2010

  • Privacy by Design at Microsoft

    Posted by Brendon Lynch
    Chief Privacy Officer

    New technology, powerful handheld computing devices, and inexpensive data storage have enabled a wide array of online services that help people connect, collaborate and get things done.  Today, more than two billion people use the Internet. That’s a staggering number, and it has doubled in the last five years.

    These trends have fueled the adoption of business models that rely heavily on the collection and processing of data. The growth of cloud computing services, which enable online storage and processing of vast amounts of data, offers great benefits to society.

    However, consumers, privacy advocates and policy makers alike have legitimate concerns about potential threats to data protection and personal privacy online and in the cloud.

    Microsoft understands these concerns and is actively working to address them.

    Years ago, we recognized the critical importance of privacy to our customers. And, as a result, we have invested heavily to build what we believe are some of the strongest privacy programs in our industry, which are part of our broader support for Trustworthy Computing

  • Baby Boomers actively seek technology to realize the digital lifestyle

    Posted by Bonnie Kearney
    Director of Marketing, Trustworthy Computing
     
    Baby Boomers—the 78 million Americans born in the wake of World War II (1946-1964)—have been called the most influential generation in history, and are recognized historically as trendsetters who have actively reshaped society at every stage of their lives. 
     
    Nearly a decade ago—about the time the youngest Boomers were turning 40 and the oldest Boomers were hitting their late-50s—it became increasingly clear that technology could greatly benefit Baby Boomers who were beginning to grapple with aging issues such as reduced vision and dexterity. Technology also offered solutions that would empower Boomers to help their parents get the care they need, yet remain independent and in their own homes for as long as possible.

  • Empowering Families with Online Safety Tools

    A report from the Family Online Safety Institute Conference, the annual event focuses on innovative ways to keep kids safe online.

  • Enabling Students of All Abilities to Realize Their Potential

    Posted by Anthony Salcito
    Vice President, Worldwide Education

    Thirty-five years ago this week, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was signed into law, and the U.S. government  committed to “ensuring that children with disabilities have opportunities to develop their talents, share their gifts and contribute to their communities.” For more than 20 years, Microsoft has focused on making computers easier to use for individuals disabilities. During that time, we’ve seen many students with disabilities integrated into general classrooms and technology has become an essential part of learning for students of all abilities.

    Anthony Salcito (right) at Worldwide Innovative Education Forum in Cape Town, October 2010. Credit: Nardus Engelbrecht

    Today, educators are trying new ways of integrating technology into the classroom and looking for ways to help students of all learning styles and abilities. Microsoft’s education mission is to help students and educators throughout the world realize their full potential. We recognize that nearly every classroom has a student who has difficulty seeing the board, concentrating on their homework, or expressing their ideas. Those are some of the reasons that Microsoft builds accessibility features into our products, ensuring that all students have access to the best learning available and that can be enhanced through technology.

    I have long believed in the power of technology to make a profound impact in education and I’ve been fortunate enough to see some amazing examples around the world where teachers are truly making magic happen for their students.  The examples that often most standout and illustrate the transformative potential of technology are those that use accessibility technology integration to empower and enrich the world of students that otherwise might have had an extremely difficult time communicating, collaborating or socializing with their peers.  Early in my career at Microsoft I supported work in hospitals and schools and saw the potential of this work first hand and it has long fueled my passion and recognition of this importance of this work.

  • A Tale of Two Cities: Prepare, Respond, Rebuild

    Posted by Orlando Ayala
    Senior Vice President, Chairman Emerging Markets

    This week in Cartagena, Colombia, Microsoft along with the Colombian Government is hosting the first National Security Leaders Forum. The event brings together leaders in the public and private sector to discuss helping transform multi-agency operational effectiveness, reduce costs, and improve collaboration and information-sharing to tackle the threats to public safety and national security.  Technology not only plays a key role in helping prepare and respond to a disaster, it also plays a key role in helping rebuild infrastructure after one.

    On January 12, 2011, the world’s eyes will be fixed on Haiti at the anniversary of the quake that killed 300,000 and left 1.5 million people homeless.  4,000 schools – 90% of the educational institutions in Haiti – were destroyed.  Much of the media attention will focus on how little is being accomplished.  The people of Haiti deserve a better future. 

    As terrible as this tragedy was, what stings most is the realization that much of this tragedy may have been averted if investments had been made in basic infrastructure – specifically in education.  In an op-ed in the Seattle Times this past March, Richard Stearns, President of World Vision, the world’s largest humanitarian organization, states “most of the deaths would have been prevented — if Haiti hadn't been so very poor.”

    Mr. Stearns points to a tale of two cities:

    1. Santiago, Chile. Population: 5.3 million.  GDP per capita: $14,000.  Literacy rate: 95%.
      • Earthquake death toll: <1,000
    2. Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Population: 2.8 million.  GDP per capita: $1,200.  Literacy rate: 50%.
      • Earthquake death toll: 300,000
  • Working Together to Prevent Bullying

    Posted by Jacqueline Beauchere
    Director, Trustworthy Computing Communications – Privacy & Online Safety
     
    As a large technology company with a significant online presence, Microsoft believes it’s our responsibility to help make the Internet a safer place for people, including children, to learn, communicate, play and grow. Of the risks facing children online, cyberbullying is a growing concern for both parents and educators.
     
    Today, bullies have capitalized on the availability of much more discreet and efficient tools with which to badger their victims, going beyond the intended uses for which they were designed. Sadly, as we’ve seen in recent news reports, there have been a number of examples where youth who were victimized resorted to taking their own lives.

  • Dialogue on IPR Best Practices in China

    Last November in Beijing, Pamela Passman delivered a keynote speech on intellectual property rights best practices at the invitation of the United States Ambassador to China.

  • Bringing Veterans to Microsoft

    Posted by Scott Pitasky
    Corporate Vice President, Human Resources Talent & Organization Capability Group

    (Cross-posted from Microsoft’s Unlimited Potential blog)

    Today, on Veterans Day, we take some time to celebrate, honor and remember our United States military veterans. At Microsoft, we are especially proud to recognize and thank our colleagues who have selflessly served our country and continue to do so through the National Guard and Reserves.

    As greater numbers of men and women return from active duty, we know that these individuals and their families need our support, expertise and resources to help them transition successfully back to civilian life.
    From a Microsoft perspective there are two elements to this.

    As we announced yesterday our Elevate America veterans initiative is focused on working with a coalition of public, private and nonprofit organizations around the country to contribute expertise, cash and in-kind resources to give US veterans and their spouses the skills and resources they need such as career counseling, technology skills training, job placement and additional support services like childcare, transportation, and housing.

  • Economics of the Cloud

    Posted by Rolf Harms, Director, Corporate Strategy Group
    Michael Yamartino, Manager, Corporate Strategy Group

    Information technology is undergoing a seismic shift towards the cloud, a disruption we believe is as game-changing as the transition from mainframes to client/server.  This shift will impact every player in the IT world, from service providers and systems architects to developers and end users.  We are excited about this transformation and the vast improvements in efficiency, agility and innovation it will bring.

    To prepare for the cloud transition, IT leaders who make investments in infrastructure, architectures, and skills have a critical need for a clear vision of where the industry is heading.  We believe the best way to form this vision is to understand the underlying economics driving this long-term trend.  We’ve done extensive analysis of these economics in Microsoft’s Corporate Strategy Group, leveraging Microsoft’s experience with cloud services like Windows Azure, Office 365, Windows Live, and Bing. We decided to share these insights with our customers, partners and the broader industry by publishing a new whitepaper, “The Economics of the Cloud.”

    Our analysis uncovers economies of scale for cloud that are much greater than commonly thought.  We believe that large clouds could one day deliver computing power at up to 80% lower cost than small clouds.  This is due to the combined effects of three factors: supply-side economies of scale which allow large clouds to purchase and operate infrastructure cheaper; demand-side economies of scale which allow large clouds to run that infrastructure more efficiently by pooling users; and multi-tenancy which allows users to share an application, splitting the cost of managing that application.

  • Women in IT – Why it Matters

    This week, Linda Zecher participated in The Global Forum/Shaping the Future event in Washington DC, an annual event that dives into the economic, political and societal issues in today’s society. Linda, who leads Microsoft’s Worldwide Public Sector business, spoke in separate sessions on Citizen-Centered eHealth and Empowering Women in Technology.

    Following her participation at the event, Linda spoke with us on the latter topic. She shared her thoughts on why it’s important for women to consider careers in IT and how Microsoft is working with partners around the world to empower women to develop the skills they need to help build a community of leaders and boost national competitiveness.

  • Through the WS-I, We Built a Solid Foundation for Achieving, Extending Interoperability

    Posted by Paul Cotton

    Partner Group Manager

     

    Roughly 10 years ago, a handful of hardware and software vendors met to discuss the concept of Web services interoperability. Outside of e-mail, the internet had yet to be adopted into mainstream use, but the industry recognized its potential as a vehicle for relaying data between different software programs or operating platforms – such as a Windows PC and an IBM mainframe.

     

    This need for the free flow of information across different platforms and programs motivated Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, SAP, HP and a handful of other vendors to form the Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I). Their goal was to codify the requirements to achieve interoperability, by creating a series of blue prints – or profiles - that developers and engineers could follow whenever they write a software program.

  • The Fourth US-China Internet Industry Forum

    Posted by Pamela Passman
    Corporate Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs

    Beijing is in many respects an ancient city, but this week we were privileged to help organize an event that brought US and Chinese participants together for a look at the future:  the Fourth U.S.-China Internet Industry Forum (“USCIIF”).  Microsoft and the Internet Society of China have convened this Forum since 2007, and we’re very pleased to have discovered a structure and rhythm for productive discussions on Internet policy and business topics.  The Forum involves a set of public keynotes, as well as private, off-the-record discussions, and informal networking among senior U.S. and Chinese business leaders, government officials, academics and civil society representatives. 

    Our dialogue this year, as in years past, covered many topics and noted the importance of transparency and international cooperation on Internet policy matters.  The Forum featured candid and open exchanges on sensitive topics including freedom of expression and basic rights to privacy.  But we noted two topics in particular:  the impact of cloud computing on the Internet, business and society, and the role that trust plays in allowing societies to realize the potential of cloud computing.

    Fostering trust has been a discussion point since the first of our gatherings.  E-commerce has always depended on user confidence in privacy, security and safety.  So have online communications, from email to newer social networking and gaming services.  The architecture of the Internet itself relies on trust – confidence that ISPs will pass packets along to their intended destination in a trustworthy manner. 

  • Improving the Reach of Healthcare through Mobile Technology

    Posted by Tony Hey
    Corporate Vice President, Microsoft External Research, a division of Microsoft Research

    Technology can do many wonderful things, from making businesses more productive to providing entertainment, but above all, technology can help solve challenges that are critical to society. Providing adequate healthcare to people in developing countries is one such challenge, and it's a challenge Microsoft Research has been engaged in for many years - through sponsorship of studies with partners to develop mobile healthcare solutions that can be applied widely and cost effectively, regardless of economic conditions.

    This is a passion Microsoft Research shares with numerous partners and institutions, including such organizations as the Gates Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. It’s why we are serving as a sponsor of the mHealth Summit again this year—and why we are thrilled that our colleague Kristin Tolle, director of Natural User Interactions at Microsoft Research, will be interviewing Bill Gates during a keynote this afternoon.

    The 2010 mHealth Summit, being held Nov. 8-10 at the Washington (D.C.) Convention Center, will bring together hundreds of experts focused on exploring the use of mobile technologies to transform health care in the United States and the developing world.

  • Young innovators speak out. Skills that will shape the future

    Posted by Piotr Marczuk
    Governmental Affairs Manager, WSG RG Poland

    (Cross-posted from Microsoft.eu)

    Global dimensions are changing. To name a few: the shift to a low carbon economy, globalization, technological change, accessible education and an ageing population have all sparked a change in the skills, knowledge base and competencies that the labour market demands. 

    We have seen youth embracing some of these exciting new trends during the inspirational 2010 Microsoft Imagine Cup Finals. Indeed, the world’s annual largest entrepreneurial competition in technology took place this year in Poland and brought to the spotlight some of the most innovative ideas that are set to spark job creation and develop human capital in new areas of business.
     
    We heard some interesting predictions directly from the young entrepreneurs themselves in the European Parliament earlier this month at the event ‘’Pushing the boundaries of Innovation’’. The students told us what skills will change the structure of the EU labour market and therefore what competencies EU employees, both present and future, should be embracing:

    Finalist Adrien Cayrac, France- bronze medal in the Game Design category:
    “First and foremost, I believe that in the future, businesses will require their employees to lean more towards collaborative work (according to U.S studies, this could represent approximately 50% of the efficiency within a company).
     
    According to me, it is also important for tomorrow’s jobs to ask for more transversal skills. Why would that be? Two major advantages: one would be that the employee would work better with colleagues whose jobs are different from his. The other advantage would be that if the employee wants to change his career path, he’d be able to do so more easily. I also believe that it is important to instill a certain balance of human, scientific and technological culture through teaching and training. Technology helps us work differently, thanks to new devices and software.

    Workstations with which we work are no longer limited to a sole computer but now include Tablet PCs, videoconferencing cameras (roundtable), smartphones (WP7), interactive whiteboards, mini-PCs…
     
    If these tools are interconnected within a single solution, they constitute unified collaborative communication and foster collective intelligence. We can then exchange information whilst ignoring constraints of location, content, time, media, or availability of one or the other. What better way to improve your skills than through constant learning? None.”

  • The Environmental Benefits of Moving to the Cloud

    Posted by Rob Bernard
    Chief Environmental Strategist

    As the head of environmental sustainability at Microsoft, I lead a team that thinks about issues around energy use and the implications that a move to the cloud will have on both worldwide energy use and carbon emissions.  Some of the questions that we are looking at include: what is the benefit of consolidating IT services in the cloud?  Would those cloud-based services consume more or less energy than they do on-premise?  And would carbon emissions output from the IT industry, which is currently on par with the airline industry, go up or down?   We decided to jumpstart this discussion with a new study that can help us and the market better understand the true costs and efficiencies of moving more services to the cloud.

    To get a better sense of the energy and carbon emissions differences between on-premise and hosted services, our partners Accenture and WSP Energy & Environment compared three commonly-used business applications: Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint and our Microsoft Dynamics CRM products.  They looked at cloud deployment of these services versus on-premise deployments for small (100 users), medium (1,000 users) and large (10,000 users) companies. They found that when organizations move these services to a hosted Microsoft cloud, they are able to reduce the energy use and carbon footprint per user by at least 30% for large organizations, and in the case of small business, this result was even more dramatic, with potential savings of up to 90%. 

  • Breaking the barriers to a single cloud market in Europe

    Posted by John Vassallo
    Vice President of EU Affairs

    (Cross posted from Microsoft.eu)

    Growth has been the watchword at the Government Leaders Forum (GLF) in London. It's an event that brings together some of the region's most influential public sector figures under one roof, in an effort to find new ways to drive sustainable economic growth in Europe.

    In my conversations in the conference hall, most people I have spoken with are in agreement that maintaining growth across the region will not be easy. Nevertheless, there is clear enthusiasm to engage and help unearth new ways to drive prosperity for Europe's people.

    There is certainly an understanding amongst most government leaders that the efficient deployment of technology across Europe will play a crucial role in dictating the speed at which the recovery happens. It was great to hear Nick Clegg, the UK government's deputy leader, reinforcing how important technology is and will continue to be in driving growth in the coming months and years.

  • From Cape Town to the world, making education a right not a privilege

    Posted by Linda Zecher
    Corporate Vice President, Worldwide Public Sector

    Last week I had the opportunity to join 500 remarkable educators, school leaders and government officials from around the globe at Microsoft’s sixth annual Worldwide Innovative Education Forum in Cape Town, South Africa.   The Forum is the signature event of Microsoft’s Partners in Learning program and it was impossible for anyone there not to be moved and inspired by the absolute passion of these educators and their amazing commitment to helping our young people realize their full potential.

    The week culminated with the announcement of the 2010 Worldwide Innovative Teachers award winners. 13 winners were chosen among the 125 finalists who reached Cape Town and more than 200,000 teachers who participated in national and regional events. Along with the many great education professionals who attended from our Pathfinder and Mentor schools, the event promoted best practice and sharing with the purpose of creating a positive legacy for current and future students across the globe.

  • Our principles for political contributions

    Posted by Fred Humphries
    Vice President, US Government Affairs

    As we approach the 2010 midterm elections, the topic of political contributions has received much media attention so I wanted to provide background on Microsoft’s own policies. 
     
    As part of Microsoft’s commitment to corporate social responsibility, we adopted a set of political principles several years ago which have been periodically updated.  These political principles are available on our corporate website and are included annually in our Corporate Responsibility report.