December, 2012

  • Research as a Service: Cloud Computing Accelerates Scientific Discovery

    Posted by Dennis Gannon
    Director of Cloud Research Strategy, Microsoft Research

    Over the past two years, we have seen growing interest from the scientific community in using public clouds for research. As part of the original Cloud Research Engagement Initiative in 2010, Microsoft partnered with funding agencies all over the world to award more than 75 research teams for projects using Microsoft’s Windows Azure cloud. The research covers topics in computer science, biology, physics, chemistry, social science, geology, ecology, meteorology and drug discovery. More details about these projects can be found here.

    From an informal survey of these projects, we learned researchers value the concept of using an on-demand, scalable compute resource over acquiring, deploying and managing a dedicated resource. Ninety percent of these researchers were pleased with their ROI using cloud services to build their application and would use cloud resources again. Of course, this sample is biased. These researchers are, for the most part, the leading edge risk takers and early adopters.

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  • Putting Privacy First in 2013

    Posted by Brad Smith
    General Counsel & Executive Vice President, Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft

    As 2012 draws to a close, we’re starting to see a number of “year-in-review” pieces recapping key developments in the tech industry over the past 12 months. One item that I think deserves to be near the top of these year-end lists is an issue to which we and others have been paying especially close attention.

    Online privacy.

    We continue to strive to put privacy first for our customers, while recognizing that providing consumers with more choice and control of their privacy requires strong collaboration with a number of stakeholders. We often have a unique perspective in these discussions: We have billions of paying customers, as well as a thriving advertising business.

    We’re looking ahead to 2013 to continue our efforts to put our customers front and center with respect to privacy, while also working with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), consumer groups, the advertising industry, and government officials to seek a clear path forward. But first, let’s look at some of the progress made this year, and what future success could look like.

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  • Avoid the Holiday Online Shopping “Grinch”

    Posted by Jacqueline Beauchere
    Director, Trustworthy Computing Communications, Microsoft

    It’s no secret more and more consumers are turning to the Internet to find those perfect holiday gifts. For most, the hustle and bustle of this time of year only makes online shopping even more attractive.  According to a recent comScore report, Cyber Monday 2012 marked the heaviest online spending day in history, with Internet sales totaling $1.465 billion, up 17 percent from 2011. In addition, it was the second day this season (the first being Black Friday) where sales surpassed $1 billion.

    Perhaps some of the gifts being purchased include the latest Internet-enabled gadgets like the new Microsoft Surface, a Windows Phone 8 device or a Kinect for Xbox 360? No matter what you may be buying for family and friends this season, it's important to remember to exercise the safest habits and practices when shopping online – in December and throughout the year. For instance, always do business online with reputable stores and sellers, and give only to legitimate charities. While most popular online merchants offer safer and more secure ways to make online purchases, it’s best to think like a “Grinch” and beware of offers that seem too good to be true. Evaluate businesses by consulting sites such as www.Epinions.com and www.BizRate.com, and check the genuineness of charities at www.charitynavigator.org. Review buyer feedback about auction sellers, which can be a key indicator of reliability.

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  • Recognizing Technology Accessibility on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities

    Posted by Frank McCosker
    General Manager, International Organizations (IO), Microsoft Worldwide Public Sector

    Persons with disabilities make up 1 billion of the world’s population, yet they face challenges in equal opportunity and access to society in critical areas like education, employment, healthcare, transportation, information communications technology and justice. Every year on Dec. 3, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we recognize the importance of providing this underserved community with equal access opportunities and livelihoods. This year’s theme is “removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all” – an area in which technology plays an important role.

    Our company was founded on the belief that putting technology in the hands of individuals could enrich and improve their lives, and, for many years, Microsoft has been dedicated to providing persons with disabilities access to technology they can use.

    On this day, Microsoft pays tribute to the contribution our United Nations partners are making toward addressing accessibility issues through innovative technology initiatives.

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  • U.S. and EU Commit to a Safer Web for Kids

    Posted by Jacqueline Beauchere
    Director, Trustworthy Computing Communications, Microsoft

    The United States and the European Union recently signed a Joint Declaration committing to make the Internet a safer place for children. Signed in London last month, the accord pledges the two governments will “work collectively and in partnership to reduce the risks and maximize the (Internet’s) benefits” for young people.

    Originally set to be inked at a day-long summit in Washington, D.C. that was cancelled due to Super Storm Sandy having battered the Eastern United States, the Declaration notes the U.S. and EU’s “shared vision” of the opportunities presented and the steps to be taken to best protect children online. European Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes and Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano signed the agreement, specifically committing to: conduct joint awareness-raising and educational efforts; grow parental and caregiver trust in online services and the content that children access, and continue the broad global effort to fight online child sexual abuse.

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  • Reputation Institute’s 2012 CSR RepTrak™ 100 Report Ranks Microsoft #1 for Corporate Social Responsibility

    Posted by Jeff Meisner
    Editor, Microsoft on the Issues

    Today, the Reputation Institute, one of the world’s leading reputation management consultant firms, released its 2012 CSR RepTrak™ 100 report naming the companies with the best reputations for corporate social responsibility around the world.

    The study surveyed people around the world to measure their perceptions of companies’ behavior in three key areas: Citizenship, Governance and Workplace. Microsoft was ranked first in the category of Governance and also received the top ranking overall. The report was compiled from a survey of consumers in 15 countries who evaluated 100 global brands in response to the following criteria:

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  • Intellectual Property Owners Education Foundation honors Alex Kipman with Inventor of the Year Award

    Posted by Bart Eppenauer
    Chief Patent Counsel, Microsoft

    Each year, the Intellectual Property Owners Education Foundation presents its Annual National Inventor of the Year Award to individuals that contribute significantly to the practice of Intellectual Property. The Award recognizes “Outstanding Achievement in the Fields of Innovation, Creativity, and IP Rights” and fosters the spirit of American innovation and highlights the protection offered to inventors by the patent system. This year, its 39th year, the Foundation honored Alex Kipman of Microsoft for the invention of Kinect, a breakthrough motion sensing input device developed for the Xbox 360 video game system and Windows PCs at a ceremony at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

    I had a chance to sit down with Alex on the eve of the award ceremony and talk with him about intellectual property, the role it plays in his organization at Microsoft, the “Kinect Effect” and some of the cool things we might expect to see in the future.

     

    Alex Kipman
    Microsoft’s Alex Kipman accepts the Intellectual Property Owner’s Inventor
    of the Year award on December 10 in Washington, DC.

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  • Digital Access in the Developing World Becomes a Reality Through Partnerships

    Posted by Anthony Salcito
    Vice President of Worldwide Education, Microsoft

    One of the profound privileges of my job is that, every year around this same time, we host the Partners in Learning Global forum – this is the Olympics of innovative education. All of the participants (nearly 500 educators from more than 80 countries) are remarkable, but it gave me chills Saturday night as I watched a teacher from Pakistan – a woman named Munazza Riaz – take the stage and receive the equivalent of the gold medal for education. She beamed as she held up the flag of her nation.

    Consider the enormous challenges and obstacles Munazza must have overcome to reach this moment. And yet, she is just one teacher – an island of excellence amidst an ocean of schools who don’t have these opportunities – due to lack of training and lack of digital access.
     
    There is a lot of talk these days about the cloud. While the cloud offers enormous promise, the reality is that, without access, that promise is empty. In countries like Haiti and throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa, 90 percent of rural schools have no electricity. Without power, digital access is a non-starter. And the opportunity divide for young people widens every day.

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  • Pulse on Citizenship: Investing in Responsibility

    Editor’s Note: This post is part of a monthly series from Microsoft’s Citizenship team that appears once per month. Pulse on Citizenship provides insight and commentary on topics and trends in corporate citizenship.

    Posted by Steve Lippman
    Director of Corporate Citizenship, Microsoft

    When you think of the groups who express the most interest and questions about a company’s social and environmental commitments who first comes to your mind:

    Young people seeking to buy from or work for companies that meet their values?

    Government officials?

    The media?

    All of these groups are important and interested audiences for our work. However, one of the groups we hear the most from about social and environmental issues on an ongoing basis might surprise you: investors. A growing number of investors believe the stereotype of a Wall Street banker concerned only with quarterly earnings and balance sheets. Some of these are socially responsible investors concerned about investing in companies acting consistently with their values.

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  • Organizations Praise Microsoft’s National Talent Strategy Proposal

    Posted by Jeff Meisner
    Editor, Microsoft on the Issues

    Today, 20 organizations issued a letter in support of Microsoft’s new National Talent Strategy, which outlines ideas for securing U.S. competitiveness and economic growth through citizenship efforts and strategy related to STEM education, skills training and high-skilled immigration reform.

    As you may remember, Microsoft’s Brad Smith launched the initiative at the Brookings Institution event, “Education and Immigration Reform: Reigniting American Competitiveness and Economic Opportunity.” The announcement generated coverage in a wide range of prominent publications, including an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal and articles in The Seattle Times, The Hill, National Journal and Politico.

    The link to the letter can be found here (please reference “Coalition Joins Group of NGOs Urging Congress to Take Action on National Talent Crisis”).

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  • Microsoft Lends Its Voice to ‘Fix the Debt’ Movement

    Posted by Brad Smith
    General Counsel & Executive Vice President, Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft

    The national debt is one of the most serious fiscal issues facing the United States today. It threatens to undermine our nation’s economic growth and competitiveness. The challenge is real and immediate, and it is essential that we come together as a nation to address this issue in a bi-partisan manner.  

    At Microsoft, we’re committed to doing what we can to help foster this important dialogue. That’s why, along with hundreds of thousands of people and hundreds of the country’s businesses, we are lending our voice and support to The Campaign to Fix the Debt.

    Today, on our Redmond campus, we are hosting Erskine Bowles, the co-founder of the campaign. In addition to helping found and lead this campaign, Erskine was co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (the “Simpson-Bowles Commission”).  During his visit, Erskine will participate in a town hall discussion with several hundred employees about the threats posed to our economy by the national debt.

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  • Averting the Looming Computer Scientist Shortage

    Posted by Rane Johnson-Stempson
    Education & Scholarly Communication Principal Research Director, Microsoft Research Connections

    Here’s a sobering fact: the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that, by 2018, there will be 1.4 million open technology jobs in the United States and, at the current rate of students graduating with degrees in computer science, we will fill only 61 percent of those openings. These predictions are all the more dispiriting when you realize that the latest advances in improving healthcare, protecting the environment and upgrading manufacturing have come from technological innovations. I believe that no other field offers as much opportunity for students and society as computer science does.

    This is why Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek)—the week of computer pioneer Grace Hopper’s birthday (Dec. 9)—is so important: it’s our chance to inspire as many students as possible to pursue this field. CSEdWeek recognizes the critical role of computing in today’s society and the imperative to bolster computer science education at all levels.

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  • 'Fix the Debt' Campaign Visits Microsoft

    Posted by Jeff Meisner
    Editor, Microsoft on the Issues

    More than 700 employees attended a town hall meeting today with Erskine Bowles, co-founder of The Campaign to Fix the Debt, to discuss the threats posed to our economy by the national debt.

    The Campaign to Fix the Debt is a non-partisan movement to put America on a better fiscal and economic path. The campaign is comprised of people and organizations with a variety of social, economic and political perspectives who share the belief that America's growing federal debt threatens our future and must be addressed. The effort is focused on mobilizing key communities – including leaders from business, government, and policy – as well as people across America who want to see elected officials work together to solve our nation's fiscal challenges.

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  • Investing in American Innovation and the Next Generation

    Editor’s Note: The following post from Microsoft Vice President of U.S. Government Affairs Fred Humphries was originally published on the Computer Science Education Week Blog on Dec. 11.

    Posted by Fred Humphries
    Vice President, U.S. Government Affairs, Microsoft

    The United States is facing a growing challenge that impacts American competitiveness and the opportunities available to the next generation. Put simply, our nation faces an increasing shortage of individuals with the skills necessary to create and deploy the next generation of information technology. At Microsoft, we have seen this challenge firsthand for our workforce and the workforce of our partners and customers, and we welcome opportunities, like Computer Science Education Week, where companies, government, schools, non-profits, students and parents can come together to tackle this challenge. 

    Despite the growing importance of computer science, it is only taught in a small percentage of U.S. schools. Out of 42,000 U.S. high schools, only 2,100 of them were certified to teach Advanced Placement Computer Science. As part of broader efforts to improve this situation, Microsoft’s Technology Education and Literacy [TEALS] program works to place high-tech professionals into high school classrooms as part-time instructors in a team teaching model in locations where school districts are unable to meet the computer science needs of their students on their own. 

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  • Praise for Senate Vote on Trade Bill

    Posted by Fred Humphries
    Vice President, U.S. Government Affairs, Microsoft

    Microsoft welcomes today’s vote in the Senate to approve Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) for Russia and Moldova. We look forward to President Obama’s signature on this important legislation. The Russian Federation and Moldova are already Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and today’s action ensures that America now will be able to take advantage of the benefits of their joining the WTO, and the enforcement of the rule of law in key areas such as Intellectual Property Rights protection and Services, which are the key to our economy’s future competitiveness.

    This has been a lengthy and important negotiation led by many U.S. Trade Representatives and officials across the Executive Branch of Government through many Administrations, including Senators Portman and Senator Johanns, among others.

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  • Microsoft Signs Patent Agreements with Hoeft & Wessel AG and EINS SE

    Posted by Jeff Meisner
    Editor, Microsoft on the Issues

    Microsoft and Hoeft & Wessel AG have signed a patent licensing agreement that provides broad coverage under Microsoft’s patent portfolio for Hoeft &Wessel devices running the Android platform. Hoeft & Wessel manufactures handheld devices and terminals for the public transportation, logistics and retail industries in Europe. While the contents of the agreement have not been disclosed, the parties indicate that Microsoft will receive royalties from Hoeft & Wessel. You can read more about the agreement over on the Microsoft News Center.

    Also announced today, Microsoft and EINS SE signed a patent licensing agreement that provides broad coverage under Microsoft’s patent portfolio for EINS devices running the Android platform.

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  • CSEdWeek Seeks to Raise Awareness of Computer Science Curriculum Gap

    As we approach Computer Science Education Week 2012 (CSEdWeek), Dec. 9 to Dec. 15, I have been taking stock of the things I have seen over the past several months. I believe that the state of K-12 computer science education is heading down a dangerous path.

    A report released by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) finds that only one-third of states in the United States have rigorous computer science education standards for high school, and most treat computer science courses as an elective (often in vocational technology) and not part of a student’s core education. This not only fails to encourage students to seek out opportunities in this rapidly growing field, it actively discourages students from taking a computer science academic track, since it is not offered or does not satisfy a graduation requirement.

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  • Seattle Times Editorial: Immigration Reform Should Include Elements of Microsoft’s Visa, Education Proposal

    Posted by Jeff Meisner
    Editor, Microsoft on the Issues

    Today, The Seattle Times featured an editorial supporting Microsoft’s National Talent Strategy proposal that outlines ideas for securing U.S. competitiveness and economic growth through high-skilled immigration reform and investments in STEM education.

    The editorial suggests that the National Talent Strategy, announced by Microsoft’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel Brad Smith this fall at the Brookings Institution, should be part of the larger conversation happening in Congress next year around immigration reform.

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  • The View from Washington State: Information Technology Sector Vital to the Future of Washington State

    Editor’s Note: This post is part of a monthly series from Microsoft called “The View from Washington State”. The View from Washington State provides insight and commentary on topics and trends of importance to technology, education, corporate citizenship and public policy in Washington State.

    Posted by Irene Plenefisch
    Government Affairs Manager, Microsoft

    Washington’s Governor-Elect Jay Inslee has made job creation his #1 agenda item. He has called innovation the “secret sauce” to creating more jobs, spurring more economic activity, and helping to cure state government’s lingering budget woes.

    Governor-Elect Inslee is the one of many elected leaders in our state that takes pride in the size and scope of Washington’s information technology industry. These elected leaders understand that the industry has been a driving force in helping the state weather the recession, continuing to create thousands of new, well-paying job opportunities even as the overall economy has foundered. 

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  • Microsoft Announces Imagine Cup Grant Winners

    Posted by Jeff Meisner
    Editor, Microsoft on the Issues

    At the Social Innovation Summit today, Microsoft announced the winners of the second annual Microsoft Imagine Cup Grants program, a three-year, $3 million competitive grant program that provides students with funding and support to help transform their projects into social enterprises or nonprofits that will address a specific social issue. Below is a photo of Team StethoCloud from Australia. Its members include (left to right) Kim Ramchen, Hon Weng Chong, Andrew Lin and Mahsa Salehi. The team took the second place grant consisting of a US$75,000 cash award for their solution that will help diagnose childhood pneumonia.

    The Imagine Cup Grants program is part of the Microsoft YouthSpark initiative, which aims to create opportunities for 300 million youth during the next three years.

    Check out this feature story on the Microsoft News Center and this post on the Microsoft Corporate Citizenship Blog.

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