June, 2010

  • The women of Taiwan remind me of the magic of technology

    I had many truly wonderful experiences in Taiwan, the team there; Hope Ong and Angela Yao; have done an amazing job pioneering the Women Unlimited Potential (UP) program. They have chosen to focus their work on women, an underserved community in Taiwan in terms of training and access to technology. Over the years the program has grown however the success of the initial grants is evident with many centres continuing to use the UP Curriculum and offering courses after the initial Microsoft Grant had finished. This is in part thanks to our dedicated partner Electronic Commerce Business Association (ECBA) and also to the Taiwanese Government that has stepped in after seeing the success of the program with additional funding and support.

    On this trip my site visits were in Taiching city. A city famed for its night market, sensational food and a Taiwanese special called stinky tofu (yes for the record I tried it and yes for the record the smell is worse than even I could have imagined). In Taiching I met with members from Taiwan *** Cancer Association (TBCA).  This centre is one of the mobile class rooms with classes held in a multi-function community center for women and senior activities. The mobile nature of the training means the reach can be much greater as the trainers and computers move from city to city throughout the week.

    These brave and enthusiastic ladies shared how learning to use computers was opening up their world connecting them with fellow survivors from around the world and empowering them to learn more themselves. They valued the time with each other and many saw this not only as a way to network but also to allow them to improve their job prospects when they returned to work. There was one lady in particular who was still undergoing chemotherapy yet made the 50 minute drive on her motorcycle once per week to come to the class. To her, learning to use this technology gave her hope and she was determined to make each and every class.

    My other stop in Taiching was the Tai Chung Women’s Prison. I found out as I arrived that our local team had gone to a huge amount of effort to make this visit possible. I was to be the first foreign woman allowed inside and it had required sign off from many levels within the Ministry of Justice (MOJ). I was honored and humbled merely at being given the opportunity however nothing prepared me for the impact of meeting face-to-face the female prison trainees.

    They told me of their happiness, inspirations and appreciation of the Microsoft Unlimited Potential (UP) program and the hard work of our hardware partner ASUS to bring this opportunity to them. I heard some amazing stories about what they had experienced in their lives and how they truly believed these skills would assist them on release. Many were keen to start their own online stores and all that I spoke to really believed that IT skills were going to give them an advantage when they were released.

    This training facility is a pioneer project for Microsoft, conducted in collaboration with three government legal control institutions (under the Ministry of Justice ). The aim of these UP classes is offer soon to be released women with the IT skills and e-commerce training to assist them to be able to support themselves after getting out of jail. The course is only offered to a limited number of students at this stage and is often oversubscribed.

    Tai Chung Women’s Prison is an institution that focuses on how to set up the women for success. Launching this course required a lot of dedication, firstly they wanted to be able to simulate the way technology works out side of the prison, search engines, auctions site, social networking, however for security reasons there is no internal access available to the women. The team worked to customize the curriculum for the women and to make it not only relevant but also inspiring and they even went to the effort of creating a mini internet experience for the women to improve their learning and give them a greater understanding of how all these tools now work.

    These women have left a lasting impression on me. They value what we often take for granted and had a passion and fire for life that technology was igniting in them. I have looked back over the photos I have taken many times and they do not cease to bring a smile to my face – so to the women of Taiwan THANK YOU!

  • Supporting our Veterans

    Yesterday, I had the honor of hosting a team from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) at Microsoft’s campus as part of their tour of the Northwest. IAVA is the nation's first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit dedicated to the veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the civilian supporters of those troops and veterans.

    IAVA is one of the members of the Microsoft Elevate America Veterans Initiative coalition, along with The American Legion, Paralyzed Veterans of America, United Service Organizations (USO), and the Wounded Warrior Project, who are helping us think about how we can most effectively partner with others to support veterans and their spouses as they transition from military to civilian employment. As part of the initiative we have a competitive funding process currently underway to find appropriate nonprofits who can come together to address this issue. (The deadline for applications is June 30, 2010.)

    Todd Bowers, IAVA's Deputy Executive Director and a Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) veteran, Jason Hansman, IAVA's Community Manager and OIF veteran, and Chrissy Stevens, IAVA's Director of Communications joined a group of Microsoft employees to talk about the issues facing this current generation of veterans and how IAVA is creating solutions both programmatically as well as through policy and legislation to address these issues.

    IAVA is involved in a wide range of policy, program and advocacy issues supporting veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and even more importantly, they are laser focused on getting results and making change happen. Issues like the transition home, healthcare, mental health, employment, the GI Bill, disability claims, and navigating the Veterans Administration are some of the key issues on the IAVA agenda.

    IAVA is working to raise awareness of some of these issues through their award winning ads, made in partnership with the Ad Council.

    During the discussion, one of the most common questions from the audience, comprised largely of veterans working at Microsoft or spouses/friends of veterans was: “What can we do to help?” Here are three key things you can do, starting today:

    • Learn about the issues (www.iava.org is a great resource and a great place to start)
    • Raise awareness of the issues with others - especially your local elected officials and policy makers
    • Get involved and take action on an issue that is important to you. There are a lot of ways you can do so: volunteer with your local VA Hospital, host an event for veterans, make a charitable contribution to the veterans’ charity of your choice, or write a letter to your congressman.

    As we continue our work with veterans, we feel very fortunate to have partners like IAVA and the other members of the Elevate America Veterans Initiative coalition who are working every day to make a difference in the lives of veterans and their families.

    You can find out more about the Microsoft Elevate America Veterans Initiative here.

  • Meet Benedict and Ken – two generations buzzed about technology in Hong Kong

    I am just back from Hong Kong where I attended one of our NGO Connection Days. The connection days are held around the world and provide nonprofits with the opportunity to come together, network and find out about how they can use technology to support their organizations. The event in Hong Kong was a great success with around 180 participants who learned about a range of topics from cloud computing to social media. I also met with some of our local nonprofit partners.

    In Hong Kong we work with the Hong Kong Council of Social Service to help us improve how nonprofits access technology through our software donation programs and also to provide training and access to technology to underserved communities helping them to improve their economic prospects. In Hong Kong though, as in the case of many of our markets in Asia, there is an ageing population so often for the elderly while paid employment may not be on the cards contributing to the economy through volunteering is of huge importance to the Government.


    Enter the delightful Benedict. Benedict was born in mainland China and studied earlier in his life in Macau. Benedict spent more than 30 years as a taxi driver in Hong Kong and after retiring was unsure what to do next but wanted to feel like he was still contributing. Benedict undertook one of our Unlimited Potential training courses through our partner Hans Anderson and was hooked! But the training was not enough, Benedict wanted to help Hans Anderson and Microsoft bring this world of technology to even more people, so now he is one of the star trainers at the Hans Anderson Centre at Chukyuen, a public housing estate in a much underserved community.

    Benedict is volunteering his services to allow more and more seniors to learn how technology can keep them contributing to the success of Hong Kong.

    At the other end of the age scale I met Ken. Ken is working for Hans Anderson providing training and courses. Ken and some of his colleagues see an opportunity to bring together technology and an environmental message together in a way that is fun and appeals to youth. They have come up with this nifty little speaker that is made from recycled plastic bulbs from vending machines. In their experience the students love making them and are so bust having fun they almost forget they are learning about technology and recycling! They may also have a burgeoning business in a few years as well!

  • Sichuan two years on

    Who could forget more than 68,000 people killed, countless homes destroyed and lives shattered in the Sichuan earthquake of 2008? Yet even as many of the rebuilding projects are moving well and many of the people have been re housed attention now turns to the economic sustainability of the region.

    As you may know our Unlimited Potential (UP) grants are focused on improving the economic situation of people through technology. In my experience this often comes to life in places and ways that you least expect. Take my recent visit to the Sanjiang Community Technology Learning Centre and home visits in Caoping Village. Both of these areas benefited from a grant through our partner Fuping Institute who are currently bringing the UP technology training to many areas affected by the quake.

    Following the earthquake many residents were left with nothing and often the men, were forced into the cities to look for work leaving their families behind. This is where the story of one great woman I met comes to life. While she was living in the city with her husband she decided to do a computer course, she owned two pigs and was considering starting out in farming. Thanks to the basic computer skills she learned, she had more confidence and she was able to learn more about farming methods, and importantly she was able to learn about the potential market value of her produce – ensuring she would know the fair market value even though she was in a disconnected rural area.

    This woman now has more than 100 pigs and is both self-sufficient and successful. She credits her ability to use the internet and also learning to use Excel to track her work with helping her business to grow. She admitted that when she started the course she was not sure what she wanted to achieve but that it had surpassed her wildest expectations.

    She was just one of many inspiring people I met. I was moved by the current training class who presented the PowerPoint skills they had learnt to tell the story of the earthquake. One man told me how in just a few minutes his whole world changed but how he was adamant that he would rebuild and that learning technology had brought him hope.

    I met a woman and a man who had taken the basic training course and were opening up guest houses in the newly rebuilt area. They said tourists were slowly coming back and they were using their computer to keep track of guests and accounts. In the beginning they both took the course to give themselves something to do and they didn’t realize how much impact it would have – the more they learn the more ides they are getting for their business. With their guest houses close together, these two are friends but it looks like the competition in Caoping Village could be hotting up!

    When you see someone light up when they tell you about how learning to use technology is changing their outlook on life you can’t help but be affected – I know I couldn’t.

  • Microsoft Office 2010 now available for nonprofits through our technology donations program

    Earlier today we announced the worldwide availability of Microsoft Office 2010. This new release of the world’s most popular productivity software provides a range of tools that help nonprofits work more efficiently and effectively from managing e-mail, to connecting and working with colleagues online, and creating and sharing professional documents.

    Microsoft has long recognized the benefits technology can bring to nonprofit organizations. In keeping with our commitment to nonprofits, we are delighted to announce that Microsoft Office 2010 is available immediately for qualifying nonprofits through our technology donations program in the United States and in 32 other countries around the world through our partnership with TechSoup Global. Office 2010 is also available immediately through our other grant programs – learn more about our work in the community here.

    What’s new in Office 2010?

    Express ideas more visually

    Office 2010 opens up a world of design options from new and improved picture formatting tools to a wide range of new customizable themes and graphic layouts.

    Accomplish more when working together

    Brainstorm ideas, keep versions in sync, and meet deadlines faster when you’re working in groups. Co-authoring in Word 2010, PowerPoint 2010, Excel Web App, and OneNote 2010 shared notebooks enable you to edit the same file at the same time with other people — even when they’re in different locations using your Windows Live account or Sharepoint Foundation 2010.

    Microsoft Office Web Apps

    Extend your Office 2010 experience to the Web. Store your Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote files online and then access, view, edit, and share content from virtually anywhere.2

    Stay connected to your business and social networks

    Outlook 2010 is your hub for colleagues, donors, and friends. Use Outlook Social Connector to quickly view history of e-mails, meetings, or attachments you receive from individuals. Get additional information about people to stay on top of your business and social circles through SharePoint My Site, Windows Live, or other popular third-party sites.

    Broadcast your message

    Broadcast your PowerPoint presentation to a remote audience, whether or not they have PowerPoint installed. The new PowerPoint Broadcast Slide Show feature enables you to present right from your desk, while your audience views the presentation live in their Web browser. PowerPoint 2010 also delivers exciting new video editing capabilities for bringing your presentation alive!

    Create powerful data insights

    Track and highlight important trends with new data analysis and visualization features in Excel 2010. The new Sparklines feature delivers a clear and compact visual representation of your data through small charts within worksheet cells. Slicers let you filter and segment your PivotTable data in multiple layers so you can spend more time analyzing and less time formatting. {Beth Kanter recently shared how she is using Excel as a critical tool to guide the effective use of social media – Excel 2010 is full of features and imagery that will help her bring her data to life.

    Manage large volumes of e-mail with ease

    Save valuable time by streamlining your inbox. Outlook 2010 lets you compress long e-mail threads into a few conversations that can be categorized, prioritized, and conveniently filed. The new Quick Steps feature lets you perform multi-command tasks, such as reply and delete, with a single click.

    Store and track all of your ideas in one place

    Get the ultimate digital notebook for tracking, organizing, and sharing text, pictures, and audio and video files with OneNote 2010. New features such as page version tracking, automatic highlighting, and Linked Notes give you more control over your information, so you’re always on top of your content and changes made by others.

    Work your way, faster and more easily

    Microsoft Office Backstage view replaces the traditional File menu to give you a centralized space for all of your file management tasks, including save, share, print, and publish. The enhanced Ribbon, common across Office 2010 applications, lets you access commands quickly and create or customize tabs to fit your work style.

    There are two versions of Office offered through the technology donations program:


    Office Standard 2010

    Office Pro Plus 2010

    Microsoft Word



    Microsoft Excel



    Microsoft Outlook with Business Contact Manager



    Microsoft PowerPoint



    Microsoft OneNote

    Yes New!

    Yes  New!

    Microsoft Publisher



    Microsoft Access



    Microsoft SharePoint Workspace


    Yes New!

    Microsoft Office Web Apps

    Yes New!

    Yes New!

    Microsoft InfoPath



    Microsoft Communicator



    For more information

    · Find out how qualifying nonprofits can order Microsoft Office 2010 through the Microsoft Technology Donations program here.

    · Discover information and resources on Office 2010 from the Microsoft Office site.

    · Explore the new Microsoft Office 2010 Web Apps visit here.

!-- WT MT Inline v.2.0 -->

Explore Our Sites

Microsoft Corporate Citizenship

Our mission is to help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential.

View Site

Microsoft Local Impact Map

Explore the positive impact of local programs promoted and supported by Microsoft around the world.

View Site

Microsoft On the Issues Blog

News, perspectives and analysis on legal and policy issues.

View Site