Category Archives: Technology

Cutting-edge workspaces, Internet of Things near-space balloons and using the cloud to help giraffe populations — Weekend Reading: April 15 edition

Buildings 16 17 on the Microsoft Redmond campus

Spring has officially sprung. Birds are in the trees. Flowers are blooming. We don’t know if it’s the season or what, but Microsoft too is bubbling over with excitement and new stories. Join us for Weekend Reading for an overview of recent happenings.

As Microsoft works to empower everyone on the planet to achieve more, the company is making a statement with new, vibrant workspaces for employees. The totally redone Buildings 16 and 17 on the Redmond campus are office-free and designed with an unparalleled range of working environments. Employees and even executives collaborate in large, shared rooms called “neighborhoods.” They roam high-ceilinged hallways and stop for impromptu meetings in atriums that capture and perpetuate light.

The buildings have all of the tech company staples: free beverages, ping pong and pool tables, the gourmet café and standing desks. But they also have Xbox game rooms, the company’s first-ever No Tech Lounge and a number of other unexpected delights.

There are several new updates to the Mail and Calendar apps that originally debuted with Windows 10 in July.

You can now customize the background by adding screenshots, accent and calendar colors and themes. You can also connect multiple email accounts in the Mail app and see them all at once through Linked Inboxes. Windows 10’s digital personal assistant also works well with these apps, so you can use your voice to add events to your calendars, set reminders that show up in the Calendar app and start composing emails through Cortana.

Matt Long and Mark Nichols worked together at the Azure Center of Excellence, where they helped customers architect solutions for the Microsoft Cloud. Now they have built a balloon that can go to near-space – and take thousands of people along for the ride, virtually, in a demonstration of the Internet of Things in action.

Known as the Pegasus II mission, a compact probe rose to 100,000 feet above the earth. The team was able to remotely control it, gather a ton of data, release it after two hours and document its journey through videos and photos. Back here on Earth, anyone was able to follow along through their website and mobile app.

Masai-giraffes

Scientists from the Wild Nature Institute are photographing thousands of giraffes to study the reproduction, survival and movements of the population. The institute is using a new image processing service that utilizes machine learning technology deployed on the Microsoft Azure cloud to evaluate the thousands of images.

The Microsoft team trained a software model to use an object detection algorithm to recognize giraffe torsos based on existing annotated giraffe data. The system identified new, difficult-to-predict images and showed its predictions on these images to a human who could quickly verify or correct the results.

Hulu, the App of the Week, is making it easier to cut the cord and walk away from expensive cable TV bills. Not only does the Hulu app offer unlimited streaming, but now the free trial period has grown from a week to 30 days.

The Hulu app delivers shows from a variety of channels and original Hulu series like “The Mindy Project” starring Mindy Kaling as an OB-GYN in New York City, “The Path” with Aaron Paul delving into the mysterious world of a cult-like movement and “11.22.63,” in which a high school teacher played by James Franco travels back in time to a day before the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

This week on the Microsoft Facebook and Instagram channels, we witnessed how electronic artist ATTLAS blends elements of live and studio performance on his Surface. As a member of deadmau5’s mau5hax bu5 tour, together they’re transforming how audiences experience electronic music.

That does it for this Weekend Reading. We hope you enjoyed it, and look forward to seeing you again next week.

Thomas Kohnstamm
Microsoft News Center Staff

Article source: http://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2016/04/15/cutting-edge-workspaces-internet-things-near-space-balloons-using-cloud-help-giraffe-populations-weekend-reading-april-15-edition/

Computer industry luminaries salute Dave Cutler’s 5-decade long quest for quality

Within the technology industry, the cycle of invention is captured in eras, from mainframe and mini, to PC, Internet, mobile and the cloud.  Most within the industry move from wave to wave, hoping to catch each successive one at just the right time.

Then there are the wave makers.  The giants on whose shoulders the industry stands. Dave Cutler is a wave maker, with a broad set of shoulders.

Cutler, a Microsoft Senior Technical Fellow whose body of work spans more than four decades, will be honored Saturday evening as a Computer History Museum Fellow, joining other wave makers such as Alan Kay, Vinton Cerf and Tim Berners-Lee in the museum’s Hall of Fellows.

To learn about Cutler’s storied career from computer luminaries including Bill Gates, Gordon Bell, Steve Ballmer, Ray Ozzie and Nathan Myhrvold, read the feature story.

Steve Clarke
Microsoft News Center Staff

Article source: http://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2016/04/15/68236/

Microsoft announces teacher-inspired updates for Windows, Office, ‘Minecraft’

At Microsoft, we’re all in on education!

Our company mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. In education, it’s to empower every student. Today, we’re proud to share the latest on what’s coming for Back-to-School 2016/2017.

Introducing Microsoft Classroom and Microsoft Forms, OneNote Class Notebook now with Learning Management System (LMS) integration, new experiences for Windows 10 and the dawn of “Minecraft: Education Edition” – Get ready!

First, we are announcing all new education features coming in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, features specifically inspired by teachers and focused on students. 

Faster, easier set-up:

Shared devices in the classroom are the norm – in the U.S., nearly 90 percent of schools report using shared devices. We also know that nearly 50 percent of teachers serve as their own tech support in their classroom. Until now, setting these devices up has been complex and getting students productive often takes too long.

With the Windows 10 Anniversary Update we are introducing a ”Set Up School PCs” app that allows teachers to set up a device themselves in a simple three-step process – in minutes. We’ve also made significant performance improvements for affordable devices. We expect the average first login to take 26 seconds, with subsequent logins of 6 seconds when the student uses that machine again.

Secure assessments:

Testing is going digital — teachers consistently tell us they want a simple way to set up quizzes or standardized tests digitally. The Windows 10 Anniversary Update brings a new ‘Take a Test’ app – simple and more secure standardized testing for the whole classroom or the whole school, where teachers or IT can lock down the testing environment, or enable simple quizzing.

Education-ready Windows Store:

Nearly 60 percent of teachers purchase and load apps themselves. With the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, the Windows Store will enable teachers to access thousands of apps, and schools can purchase and deploy them in bulk.

Free upgrade and affordable devices:

More and more, educators are asking us about affordable devices. We have a great portfolio of affordable, durable and innovative Windows 10 devices starting at $199, designed for the demands of education.

So you can see, the Windows 10 Anniversary Update brings a huge range of education-specific features that teachers and students are going to love. Learn even more about these new updates, and more, over on the Windows blog!

Second, we are announcing some big improvements to Office 365 Education.

Today we are announcing Microsoft Classroom – a new experience in Office 365 Education. Microsoft Classroom is designed to be the one place students and teachers come to manage their day – from Class Notebooks, assignments and grades to conversations, calendars and to announcements!

We’re piloting this with Omaha Public Schools in Nebraska. Let me just share with you what they had to say . . .

“It simplifies our digital classroom management and frees up our teachers so they can spend more time with students and less time managing administrative access to class materials.” – Rob Dickson, Executive Director, Information Management Services of Omaha Public Schools.

Today we are also announcing Microsoft School Data Sync (SDS) – a powerful complement for Microsoft Classroom. SDS connects Microsoft Classroom to a School Information System (SIS), so teacher, student and classes information is automatically populated in Microsoft Classroom and OneNote Class Notebooks. School Data Sync will be included in Office 365 Education.  Think of it as a super simple process that quickly provisions a set of classes and rosters from many School Information Systems already used.

Also being announced: Microsoft Forms – a simple way to quickly assess student progress and get feedback with easy-to-create surveys and quizzes. It’s in public preview starting today for Office 365 Education here.

OneNote Class Notebooks are the heart of our education experience and they just keep getting better and better. We have seen incredible momentum – with millions of student notebooks created just this school year. On top of the millions, we are currently seeing an additional new 10,000 student notebooks created per day!

To hear one educator describe it: “It’s your whole classroom (lesson plans, materials, assignments and student work) in a digital binder with tools for communication and collaboration!”

We’re also announcing Class Notebook assignment and grading integration is now available with more than 25 Learning Management System partners – including leaders like Canvas, Edmodo, Schoology, Brightspace and Moodle. Learn more here.

We’re really excited about all of these improvements for Office 365 Education coming for the new school year! Learn more about all of the updates to Office happening for education – check out the Office blog here.

Finally, we’ve got some great news about “Minecraft: Education Edition! June begins an early access program of “Minecraft: Education Edition.” It will be available for any educator to download and try for free on Windows 10 and OS X El Capitan. 

This program is a great way for educators and administrators who are interested in “Minecraft: Education Edition” to give it a test run in the summer months and give us more feedback and suggestions.

If you are new to “Minecraft” in the classroom, check out education.minecraft.net for resources to help prepare, including lesson plans and a new “Minecraft” mentors program to connect with amazing teachers already using “Minecraft.”

What’s the next step? Upgrade your devices to Windows 10 or OS X El Capitan, and sign up for an Office 365 Education account.

To learn more about “Minecraft: Education Edition” and the upcoming early access program, check out our blog.

The culture at Microsoft is customer-obsessed and we’ve been hard at work listening to teachers and students. We hope you love what’s coming this summer and we look forward to your continued feedback and hearing about the amazing things happening in your classroom. Let me know what you think on Twitter – @microsoft_edu @tony_prophet #MSFTEDU.

 

Article source: http://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2016/04/14/microsoft-announces-teacher-inspired-updates-for-windows-office-minecraft/

Microsoft’s inspired new workspaces boost creativity and collaboration

Buildings 16 and 17 are two of the biggest at Microsoft headquarters – sturdy, brick-and-glass tributes to the practical 1980s, when the company was focused more on manifesting Bill Gates’ vision to put a computer on every desk and in every home than on the architectural prowess of its campus.

Inside, however, is a different story. There is light, air and art. There are new, retooled work spaces and vibrant common areas. Once fortresses of winding corridors, fluorescent lighting and private offices, the buildings were recently gutted and radically redesigned not just to be more interesting and modern, but to offer employees an unprecedented range of ways to get things done. In the parlance of the zip code, Buildings 16 and 17 have been totally hacked.

After all, it would be a non-starter for Microsoft to have the goal of empowering everyone on the planet to achieve more without trying to do the same for its own employees.

The buildings sport all the familiar hallmarks of a modern tech company – the plethora of free beverages, the ping pong and pool tables, the gourmet café, the standing desks. But from there, the offerings get more unusual.

For starters, Buildings 16 and 17 are office-free. Designed with the idea that there is no one best way to get work done, there are an unparalleled range of working environments. Employees and even executives work together in large, shared rooms called “neighborhoods.” They roam high-ceilinged hallways and stop for impromptu meetings in angular atriums designed to capture and perpetuate light. They head into large, glass team rooms to collaborate, or into one of the many focus rooms or cozy alcoves for privacy. They yell and whoop in an Xbox game room, and take their shoes off to quietly recharge in the company’s first-ever No Tech Lounge.

“It’s a new look for the new Microsoft,” said Jochen Liesche, a business manager for the Data Platform group who helped with the redesign. “I think ultimately the physical space really represents the culture here. It’s almost as if the physical space is a proxy for the company’s mission and its culture,” he said.

Read the full story.

Article source: http://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2016/04/11/how-microsofts-inspired-new-workspaces-boost-creativity-and-collaboration/

Ensuring equal pay for equal work

MS-Execs-2014-11-Hogan-Kathleen-397-2-800x1200One of the most important aspects of our evolving culture at Microsoft is our deep commitment to building a more diverse and inclusive workforce. If we want to build products and services for everyone on the planet, we need to represent everyone on the planet. Having a diverse and inclusive workforce is indeed a powerful bridge to the markets and people we serve.

A year and a half ago, our CEO, Satya Nadella, set out three areas of focus for Diversity Inclusion at Microsoft: recruiting more diverse talent; expanding training to foster a more diverse and inclusive culture; and ensuring equal pay and equal opportunity. At that time, for every $1 earned by men, our female employees in the U.S. earned 99.7 cents at the same job title and level.

With that as a backdrop and in recognition of April 12 as National Equal Pay Day (which originated in 1996 as a public awareness event to illustrate the gap between men’s and women’s wages), I wanted to share our most recent data, not only for women, but also for racial and ethnic minorities in the U.S.:

image1 image2
Today, for every $1 earned by men, our female employees in the U.S. earn 99.8 cents at the same job title and level. Racial and ethnic minorities in the U.S. combined earn $1.004 for every $1 earned by their Caucasian counterparts. Breaking it down even further, African American/black employees are at $1.003; Hispanic/Latino(a) employees are at 99.9 cents; and Asian employees are at $1.006 for every $1 earned by Caucasian employees at the same job title and level, respectively.

These numbers reflect our commitment to equal pay for equal work, and I’m encouraged by these results. We will continue our commitment to equal pay by monitoring this data and publicly disclosing it as part of our annual public diversity and inclusion information and data reporting. We will also continue work to ensure that all of our employees have equal opportunity.

Our announcement today is another step forward along the path of greater diversity and inclusion progress at Microsoft, and in society as a whole. Along with our industry peers, the mission of landing intentional, enduring and impactful diversity and inclusion initiatives is one will we continue to pursue vigilantly.

Article source: http://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2016/04/11/ensuring-equal-pay-equal-work/

First-ever Microsoft Envision showcases supermarket of the future, R3 partnership and Ecolab’s efforts to solve water shortages — Weekend Reading: April 8 edition

Weekend Reading returns with stories from the very first Microsoft Envision event, including a look at the supermarket of the future, a strategic partnership with R3 and a collaboration with Ecolab to find solutions to water shortages.

Microsoft’s new flagship event for business leaders, Envision, began Monday in New Orleans with more than 6,000 leaders from 70 countries attending. It featured a keynote from CEO Satya Nadella and a guest appearance from astronaut Captain Scott Kelly. The “red thread” that connected the keynote, the drill-down sessions and conversations on and off the expo floor was digital transformation, writes Chris Capossela, executive vice president and chief marketing officer.

Envision attendees saw how Italy’s biggest grocery cooperative is using futuristic technology to help shoppers return to the sociable days of open-air markets, where there were shopkeepers at every stall, ready to answer any question a customer might have about their wares. Coop Italia’s “supermarket of the future” concept replaces the tall shelves of a typical grocery with an airy layout, including easy-to-reach, tilted displays and informative screens at eye level. Motion sensors detect which product a shopper is pointing or looking at, triggering visual displays of information such as ingredients, potential allergens and the origin of the food. The design uses Kinect sensors, Microsoft Azure and other Microsoft technologies. Read more on the Transform blog.

Also Monday, Peggy Johnson, executive vice president for Business Development at Microsoft, announced a strategic partnership with R3, a consortium of leading banking institutions, to help turn the backbone of bitcoin, blockchain, into a revolutionary way for financial institutions to conduct transactions and track asset ownership securely and transparently.

Envision also shined a light on Ecolab, a $14 billion company that is a leading global provider of water, hygiene and energy technologies and services. It has partnered with Microsoft to use recent and future developments in cloud computing, applying cutting-edge technology to speed up how worldwide industries tackle water scarcity.

The Windows 10 Anniversary Update introduces Windows Ink – a family of end-to-end user experiences, platform advances and hardware capabilities. Windows Ink starts with the Windows Ink Workspace, coming this summer. Within it, Sticky Notes turns your handwriting into a powerful digital tool. You’ll also see a curated list of suggested apps in the Windows Ink Workspace to bring you the latest pen apps from the Windows Store, plus a dedicated link to all pen apps. Microsoft has also been working with third-party app developers to integrate simultaneous pen and touch, an example of which is shown in the video above with Adobe Illustrator. Head over to Building Apps for Windows to find out more about Windows Ink.

The App of the Week, “Quantum Break,” isn’t just a video game, it’s also a live action show featuring Shawn Ashmore as the hero, Jack Joyce; Aidan Gillen as his nemesis Paul Serene; and Dominic Monaghan as Jack’s genius brother William. In the aftermath of a split second of destruction that fractures time, two people have gained extraordinary abilities. One of them travels through time and becomes fixated on controlling this power. The other uses these new abilities to try to correct the timeline. Read more about it on the Windows Experience Blog.

Also check out the newest Red Stripe Deals for sales on six Windows 10 apps and games.

This week on the Microsoft Facebook and Instagram channels, we discovered how Temenos has transformed cloud-based banking by providing millions access to microfinance. With the Microsoft cloud, Temenos can reach clients from any location and empower them with opportunities for business growth and professional development.

That’s it for this edition. See you next Friday for another Weekend Reading!

Posted by Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff

Article source: http://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2016/04/08/first-ever-microsoft-envision-unveils-supermarket-future-r3-partnership-ecolabs-efforts-solve-water-shortages-weekend-reading-april-8-edition/

Ecolab and Microsoft work together to face water shortage challenges

Water is vital to life, but it’s a finite resource – 97.5 percent of it is salt water. The 2.5 percent that is fresh comes from glaciers, ice caps, groundwater, lakes, rivers, ice and snow. Your morning cup of coffee takes 55 gallons of water to produce, the shirt you’re wearing commanded another 700 gallons of water to produce, and the car you drive to work requires a staggering 39,090 gallons to build.

The demand for water has risen alongside population growth, urbanization, changing diets, rising demand for energy and increasing industrialization. Recent events such as the California drought are currently keeping water management in the public spotlight. Personal conservation – not watering lawns and taking shorter showers – is a start. But it’s only part of the solution.

Ecolab, a $14 billion company that is a leading global provider of water, hygiene and energy technologies and services, has partnered with Microsoft to use recent and future developments in cloud computing, applying cutting-edge technology to speed up how worldwide industries tackle water scarcity.

Read what they’re doing on the Transform business blog.

Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff

Article source: http://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2016/04/04/ecolab-and-microsoft-work-together-to-face-water-shortage-challenges/

Microsoft Envision: A conversation on digital transformation

Yesterday marked the first day of what we hope will be a long tradition. Our new flagship event for business leaders — the Microsoft Envision conference — kicked off in New Orleans with a keynote from Satya Nadella and a guest appearance from astronaut Captain Scott Kelly. The topic of digital transformation was the red thread that connected the keynote, the drill-down sessions and conversations on-and-off the expo floor.

With Microsoft Envision, we’re creating a truly global summit for issues critical to CxOs and other business leaders. More than 6,000 leaders from 70 countries representing every walk of industry are here in New Orleans. We’ve moved some of our deeply technical content to Microsoft Ignite and Microsoft Build so attendees here can focus on challenges, trends and disruptors that are making and breaking companies today. This conference is designed to give everyone a chance to step back and learn about smart strategies to tackle emerging issues, power new efficiencies and build new business models and revenue streams.

We’ve convened one of the more impressive slates of speakers I can remember. There are sessions with top leaders like Paypal CEO Dan Schulman, NFL CIO Michelle McKenna-Doyle and Special Olympics Chairman Timothy P. Shriver, Ph.D.—all of whom are sharing their perspective and career lessons on transforming for success. I even got the chance to sit down with Captain Kelly, who shared his experiences with Microsoft HoloLens in Redmond, Washington, and on the International Space Station. He talked about the future opportunity for HoloLens to create better connection with astronauts in space and on the ground resources.

Yesterday Satya discussed the benefits of digital transformation in business. He shared stories about amazing companies doing incredible things with technology. He discussed how Virgin Atlantic is deepening its relationship with customers by using analytics to get a 360-degree view of a customer and turn those insights into predictive power to deliver personalization at scale.  He also talked about how Ecolabs, a $14 billion global provider of water, hygiene and energy technologies and services, is using a combination of sensors and data to predict the flow of business and automate decisions.

Illustrating the scale of disruption we’re seeing today, Satya announced that Microsoft and R3 (a consortium of 40+ banks around the world) have formed a partnership to help accelerate the implementation of distributed ledger, blockchain technology—a big step in modernizing the way financial institutions conduct transactions. He also shared that Toyota is partnering with Microsoft to bring cloud intelligence into the driving experience.

In planning this new conference, we wanted it to be a place that would foster the free exchange of ideas, build a strong community and bring together leaders in business to learn from each other. So far I have been impressed by the conversations and stories I’ve heard of customers, speakers and analysts at different stages of their digital transformation.

The expo floor has also been impressive, with hundreds of booths from Microsoft and its partners, more than 100 Microsoft Theater Trend sessions, and 300-plus customer and partner meetings.

I’m looking forward to an exciting day two. As Satya said in his keynote, we want attendees to envision what a difference they can make for their customers, and how technology can be used to change the world. We feel like we have a responsibility to bring together different industries and leaders, because technology is transforming every industry.

Follow more stories on today’s digital transformation on our new business blog.

Article source: http://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2016/04/05/microsoft-envision-a-conversation-on-digital-transformation/

Toyota and Microsoft team up to connect drivers to the future

Toyota announced on Monday that it’s creating a new company called Toyota Connected to serve as the carmaker’s data science hub as it seeks to connect cars to people’s daily lives. Microsoft Azure will be the cloud computing platform, providing a hybrid solution for everything Toyota Connected creates as it works to make driving more personal, more intuitive and safer.

“We’ve all been talking about big data for a long time, but we are at a unique point in history where the technology is catching up with what we hope to achieve by delivering new services and capabilities into the vehicle,” said Zack Hicks, president and chief executive officer of Toyota Connected.

With the new venture, Toyota and Microsoft envision a world where cars are giant smartphones you ride in, with a virtual assistant that knows the best routes, whom to notify if traffic will make you late for a meeting, what your blood pressure is doing during stop-and-go, and which restaurants at the next exit might be most to your liking.

Read more at the Transform blog.

Vanessa Ho
Microsoft News Center Staff

Article source: http://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2016/04/04/toyota-and-microsoft-team-up-to-connect-drivers-to-the-future/

At Microsoft Envision, the financial services blockchain revolution begins

At Monday’s kickoff to Microsoft Envision in New Orleans, Peggy Johnson, executive vice president for Business Development at Microsoft, announced a strategic partnership with R3, a consortium of leading banking institutions, to help move blockchain technology from hype to reality for the financial services industry.

“Together, we will help R3’s over 40 member banks develop, test and deploy blockchain technologies to modernize decades-old processes and streamline operations, potentially saving billions of dollars from back-office operations,” she writes on the Transform business blog. “Digital transformation is lighting up across industries in every region of the world. It brings with it new challenges and new opportunities, opens up new markets and new customers, and demands a fundamentally new approach to thrive in a mobile-first, cloud-first world.

“One undeniable force in this transformation is the emerging use of blockchain technology in the enterprise,” Johnson continues. “Known by many as the backbone of bitcoin, blockchain offers a secure and transparent way to digitally track the ownership of assets. Simply put, it promises to revolutionize the way financial institutions conduct transactions.”

Read more about how blockchain modernizes legacy financial processes and eliminates the need for middlemen on the Transform business blog.

Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff

Article source: http://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2016/04/04/at-microsoft-envision-the-financial-services-blockchain-revolution-begins/

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