Posted by DeLee ShoemakerSenior Director of State Government Affairs, Microsoft
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.
Last week, the state’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council published its February revenue update. There were no major surprises, and cumulated general fund revenue collections are now about two percent above the November forecast.
The fact that actual revenue collections are running slightly above forecasted levels is good news for lawmakers working to close a gap in the budget estimated to be as much as $2.5 billion, including the costs of beginning to comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling in the McCleary basic education funding case.
Posted by David TennenhouseCorporate Vice President, Technology Policy
The world is awash in data—on one estimate, almost three zettabytes (three billion terabytes) of information had been created by 2012, a digital deluge that is growing at around 50% a year. A unique combination of technological innovation, social media, ubiquitous connectivity and digital globalization, among other factors, is fueling this exponential growth in the volume, variety and availability of data. At the same time, increasingly powerful computing technologies can now take massive amounts of these data, commingle them, and use advanced machine-learning and analytics to gain new insights and knowledge. And we are only at the start of this data revolution.
As the World Economic Forum (WEF) observes in a new report, Unlocking the Value of Personal Data: From Collection to Usage, these technologies hold extraordinary potential for new innovations, economic growth and societal benefit. For example, predictive models developed from large-scale hospital data sets can be used to identify patients who are at the highest risk of being rehospitalized within 30 days after they are discharged. A recent analysis using Microsoft technology applied machine learning to a large multi-year data set of patient hospitalizations in the Greater Washington, DC, metropolitan area. The resulting predictive model can reveal risk factors that were previously undetectable: for example, if a patient was admitted for congestive heart failure, they were more likely to be readmitted within 30 days if they were depressed or taking drugs for gastrointestinal disorders.
Posted by Horacio GutierrezCorporate Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Microsoft
Last week, BSA│The Software Alliance and the National Association of Manufacturers held an event on Capitol Hill to talk about the benefits of software patents and what steps could be taken to improve the patent system while preserving its role as an engine of innovation. Microsoft participated in the event, and we outlined proposed steps that would increase transparency, curb litigation abuse, and improve patent quality. In doing so, we noted that no single actor can address shortcomings in the system, and that all interested parties – private companies, the USPTO, Congress, and the courts – have a role to play in ensuring that the patent system works to drive innovation, economic growth, and job creation.
Posted by Brad SmithGeneral Counsel & Executive Vice President, Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft
Earlier today, I participated in an event on Capitol Hill about the U.S. patent system and software patents sponsored by BSA│The Software Alliance and the National Association of Manufacturers. Panelists included representatives of tech companies, manufacturers, and start-ups, and it was interesting to see the extent to which all of us innovate in software and rely on the patent system to incentivize and protect those innovations. This is not surprising: we live in a digital world. Many things that used to be done mechanically or via hardware – such as throttle control systems – are now implemented in software.
Recent studies from the Department of Commerce and the Brookings Institution show that patents drive job creation, productivity, and economic growth today. Given the benefits of the patent system, it is important to ensure that it functions well. As I mentioned in my remarks today, there is no question that the U.S. patent system has tremendous strengths but also significant weaknesses. All of us – private companies, the USPTO, Congress and the courts – share responsibility for taking steps to improve the operation of the patent system. From Microsoft’s perspective, the key opportunities relate to increasing transparency, curbing litigation abuse, and improving patent quality. Specific reforms we support include:
Posted by Frank McCoskerGeneral Manager, Global Strategic Accounts
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart”. The language of our thoughts and our emotions is our most valuable asset.
Source: Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of International Mother Language Day 2012
Today one of our partners, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) celebrates International Mother Language Day, which aims to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight the urgency of the situation and what Microsoft is doing to promote the use of mother tongue languages while also making technology more accessible for speakers of those languages.
With the launch of Windows 8, we have added 13 extra languages to our range of Language Interface Packs (LIPs), bringing the total number of languages supported by Windows 8 and Office 365 to 108. Downloadable free of charge, LIPs enable the user to install a local language version as a "skin" on top of an existing installation of the Windows operating system and standard Microsoft Office system applications. Promoting access to mother languages is crucial to ensuring the survival of people’s common, living heritage. It is linguistic and cultural ties that strengthen communities and promote cohesion.