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The future of mobile app development

It is incredible how much has happened since Xamarin joined Microsoft just over a month ago, starting with Scott Guthrie’s Build 2016 announcements that Xamarin is now part of all editions of Visual Studio at no additional charge — from Community to Enterprise — and our plans to open source the Xamarin SDK. It is a dream come true for us to be able to put the power of Xamarin into the hands of all developers.

In just the first two weeks since Build alone, we helped nearly 3.5 times more developers get started building great apps with Xamarin than ever in our history as a company.

Now we are at Xamarin Evolve 2016, the world’s largest cross-platform mobile development conference, in Orlando. This morning we open sourced the Xamarin SDK and launched new ways to make Visual Studio the most complete mobile development environment.  We also launched new ways to build native, cross-platform apps faster than ever using our popular cross-platform UI framework, Xamarin.Forms.

This is our third Evolve conference, but the first time we are showing the comprehensive developer experience that only Microsoft and Xamarin together can deliver.

Open source Xamarin: Ready for you!

We have officially open sourced and contributed to the .NET Foundation the Xamarin SDK for Android, iOS and Mac under the same MIT license used for the Mono project. This includes native API bindings for iOS, Android and Mac, the command-line tools necessary to build for these platforms, and Xamarin.Forms, our popular cross-platform UI framework.

Watching Xamarin co-founder and open source pioneer Miguel de Icaza announce this onstage was a proud moment for all of us. The future of native cross-platform mobile development is now in the hands of every developer. We look forward to seeing your contributions; go to to get involved.

Visual Studio: Your complete mobile development environment

Today we launched new ways to connect Visual Studio to your Mac to make it even easier for C# developers to create native iOS apps, and new ways to auto-generate mobile app test scripts in Visual Studio.

Our iOS Simulator remoting lets you simulate and interact with your iOS apps in Visual Studio — even supporting multi-touch interactions on Windows machines with capable touch screens. We also unveiled our iOS USB remoting, which makes it possible to deploy and debug apps from Visual Studio to an iPad or iPhone plugged into your Windows PC.

In addition, our Test Recorder Visual Studio Plugin now brings Test Recorder’s ability to generate test scripts to Visual Studio users. Simply interact with your app on device or in the simulator and Test Recorder automatically generates scripts that can be run on thousands of devices with Xamarin Test Clouds automated app testing.

Xamarin.Forms: Faster and easier mobile app development

We launched Xamarin.Forms a few years ago to help developers build mobile apps faster, maximizing UI code-sharing while still delivering fully native experiences.

Today, we showed three key new features that will be coming to Xamarin.Forms.  Data Pages and Themes make it easy to connect apps to common entities and data sources, and create beautiful, native user interfaces with just a few lines of code. The Forms Previewer makes it easy to iterate on your Xamarin.Forms UI designs by providing real-time previewing of Xamarin.Forms user interfaces composed in XAML.

The new, mobile-optimized development lifecycle

We were able to show today the most streamlined mobile lifecycle available anywhere through our combined product lineup, including integrations between Visual Studio Team Services, HockeyApp and Xamarin Test Cloud. Through our combined mobile lifecycle solution, you now have a complete solution to build great mobile apps at scale, tackling the unique challenges of mobile DevOps.

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We’ve heard great enthusiasm from our customers.  Bryan Hooper, senior director enterprise architecture at Bloomin’ Brands, talked about how they have “paired Xamarin with Microsoft’s Azure technology, and we’re really excited about the new partnership between the two organizations.”   Darrell Thompson, vice president of information system services at Coca-Cola Consolidated, says that “Xamarin and Microsoft have been excellent partners and brought our mobile development to a whole new level.”

Learn more

To dive deeper into the Evolve announcements, visit the Xamarin blog, and watch the Xamarin Evolve 2016 live stream throughout today and tomorrow. Don’t miss the closing session with Steve Wozniak and Miguel de Icaza sharing their perspectives on the future of apps and software development (4:00 p.m. EST).

If we’re able to deliver all of this for you in just six weeks, imagine what you’ll be able to do in six months with Xamarin and Microsoft!

The post The future of mobile app development appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

Source: The Official Microsoft Blog | 27 Apr 2016 | 9:29 am

Satya Nadella: Digital transformation is changing the face of manufacturing

A digital transformation is remaking companies and their factories, bringing the intersection of manufacturing and technology even closer, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said Sunday in his keynote address at Hannover Messe 2016, the world’s largest industrial technology fair, in Germany.

Enabling that transformation are systems of intelligence that help companies gain insight and take action from big data, optimize their operations and change the very nature of the business models around their industrial products, Nadella said.

Read more on what he had to say by visiting Microsoft News Center.

The post Satya Nadella: Digital transformation is changing the face of manufacturing appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

Source: The Official Microsoft Blog | 25 Apr 2016 | 4:23 am

Microsoft grants help kids learn computer science, Earth Day is celebrated and influential engineer is honored — Weekend Reading: April 22 edition

From a huge effort to help kids realize their potential to a celebration of our dear old planet, this week brought plenty of interesting and inspiring news around Microsoft. We’ve rounded up some of the highlights in this latest edition of Weekend Reading.

Earlier this week, Microsoft announced grants to 100 nonprofit partners in 55 countries as part of YouthSpark, a global initiative to increase access for young people to learn computer science. In turn, these nonprofit partners — such as Laboratoria, CoderDojo and City Year — will use the power of local schools, businesses and community organizations to empower students to achieve more for themselves, their families and their communities.

The nonprofits will build upon the work that Microsoft already has underway through programs like Hour of Code with, BBC micro:bit and TEALS.

Every young person should have an opportunity, a spark, to realize a more promising future,” Mary Snapp, corporate vice president and head of Microsoft Philanthropies, wrote in a blog post on Wednesday. “Together with our nonprofit partners, we are excited to take a bold step toward that goal today.”

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Wondering what the next wave of breakthrough technology will be? Harry Shum, executive vice president of Microsoft Technology and Research, calls it an “invisible revolution,” and it’s transforming farming, allowing people from different cultures to communicate, helping people breathe healthier air, preventing disease outbreaks and much more.

“We are on the cusp of creating a world in which technology is increasingly pervasive but is also increasingly invisible,” Shum said.

This week on the Microsoft Facebook page, we joined the invisible revolution to preview the latest, most cutting-edge developments in artificial intelligence, machine learning and cloud computing. The possibilities are endless.

Invisible revolution GIF

Computer industry luminaries honored Dave Cutler, a Microsoft senior technical fellow whose impressive body of work spans five decades, as a Computer History Museum Fellow. The 74-year-old has shaped entire eras. He worked to develop the VMS operating system for Digital Equipment Corporation in the late 1970s, had a central role in the development of Windows NT — the basis for all major versions of Windows since 1993 — and helped develop the Microsoft Azure cloud operating system and the hypervisor for Xbox One that allows the console to be more than just for gaming.

“The Fellow awards recognize people who’ve had a tremendous impact on our lives, on our culture, on the way we work, exchange information and live,” said John Hollar, the museum’s president and CEO. “People like Dave Cutler, who probably influences the computing experiences of more than 2 billion people, yet isn’t known in a way he deserves to be, in proportion to the impact he’s had on the world.”

WR Engineer award

Microsoft Philanthropies sponsored the annual We Day, supporting exciting events Wednesday in Seattle and earlier this month in Los Angeles. Nearly 30,000 attended the shows, which celebrate young people who are making a difference.

In supporting We Day, Microsoft aims to help young people drive the change they would like to see in their neighborhoods, schools and communities. Our photo gallery captures the highlights, famous faces and young people who were involved in this year’s events.

WR_We day

In advance of Earth Day on Friday, Microsoft kicked off this week with inspiration and information about the company’s sustainability programs and initiatives, including ways you can take part in the efforts. The  brand new Environmental Sustainability at Microsoft website details how Microsoft’s company-wide carbon fee have financed significant investments in renewable energy to power its data centers, improved building efficiency and reached more than 6 million people through the purchase of carbon offsets from community projects around the world.

Microsoft, which has been a carbon-neutral company since 2012, is continually finding ways to make its products and their lifecycles more earth-friendly. Learn more about how Microsoft is commemorating Earth Day on the Microsoft Green Blog.

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Microsoft is also constantly working to help students achieve more. Some all-new education features coming in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update are specifically inspired by teachers and focused on students. A “Set Up School PCs” app lets teachers set up a device themselves in mere minutes, and a new “Take a Test” provides simple and secure standardized testing for classrooms or entire schools.

Learning will also get a big boost with Microsoft Classroom and Microsoft Forms, a OneNote Class Notebook that now has Learning Management System (LMS) integration and — perhaps most exciting to students — the dawn of “Minecraft: Education Edition.” Educators will be able to give it a test run in the summer months and provide feedback and suggestions.

In apps this week, the powerful mobile photo-editing app PicsArt is marking Earth Day by offering a series of green- and outdoorsy-themed photo frame and clip art packages. Several are exclusive to Windows customers. The PicsArt app is free in the Windows Store.

Need a little help juggling projects, priorities and other moving parts in your busy life? The Todoist Windows 10 app can help you stay organized, collaborate with colleagues and even empty your inbox by turning important emails into tasks.

Or for a little fun this weekend, go way beyond retro to prehistoric days in “Age of Cavemen.” In this multiplayer strategy game, you’re the village chief in a dangerous world, and you need to keep your people safe. Build an army, create alliances and destroy your opponents in a wild and wooly free-for-all.

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And that’s a wrap for this edition of Weekend Reading. See you here next week for the latest roundup.

Posted by Tracy Ith
Microsoft News Center Staff

The post Microsoft grants help kids learn computer science, Earth Day is celebrated and influential engineer is honored — Weekend Reading: April 22 edition appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

Source: The Official Microsoft Blog | 22 Apr 2016 | 9:00 am

Sparking opportunity for all youth around the globe

Sometimes all it takes is a spark: that one class, that one teacher, that one project which makes a difference. It can change the lives of young students who may have had little opportunity to excel, or perhaps even to complete high school, to enable them to become successful engineers, entrepreneurs or computer scientists. This is the inspiration behind our global YouthSpark initiative.

Last September, Satya Nadella announced a three-year, $75 million YouthSpark investment to help every young person get the opportunity to learn computing skills and computer science.


Click here to learn more about our partners.

Today we are providing an update by announcing YouthSpark grants to 100 nonprofit partners in 55 countries. In turn, our partners will leverage the power and energy of local schools, businesses and community organizations to create new and engaging opportunities for students to explore computer science. These partners will teach students valuable skills to help them prepare for and succeed in jobs that are open today across industries, along with new jobs that will be created. Our partners will build upon the work that Microsoft already has underway, including our commitments to computer science education through programs like Hour of Code with, BBC micro:bit and TEALS.

Still, much more progress must be made. Despite the need for basic computational thinking skills across all subject areas, in the U.S. less than 25 percent of high schools offer computer science classes. Only 2.5 percent of U.S. high school graduates go on to study computer science in college, and of this small percentage, only 1 in 5 computer science graduates is female. Globally, some countries have made computer science a mandatory subject in secondary schools, but we know firsthand through our own work that far too few schools around the world provide courses in computing. We also recognize that governments play a critical role in continued progress on this important issue. We continue to work with policymakers around the world to support the policy and funding necessary to expand computer science into public education. In the U.S., we’re proud to support Computer Science for All, a national effort created by President Barack Obama to give all American students the opportunity to learn computer science in school.

We know that no single organization or company can close the global computer science education skills gap. That is why we are committed to work in partnership with others. Our efforts have focused on leveraging longstanding community relationships of more than 100 nonprofit partners around the world to create access to computer science, and also to break down barriers and stereotypes that are keeping large populations of youth out of computer science education — even when the opportunities are available.

Later this month, we will bring together some of our local nonprofit partners from around the world during a YouthSpark Summit at the Microsoft campus in Redmond. We’ll learn, discuss, share ideas and develop action plans so that, together with our partners, we can continue to improve and bring better knowledge and expertise to local communities.

Every young person should have an opportunity, a spark, to realize a more promising future. Together with our nonprofit partners, we are excited to take a bold step toward that goal today. Learn more about our nonprofit partners here, and visit for more information on our global initiative to make computer science education accessible for all young people. ‪

The post Sparking opportunity for all youth around the globe appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

Source: The Official Microsoft Blog | 20 Apr 2016 | 3:01 am

Welcome to the invisible revolution

Think of your favorite pieces of technology. These are the things that you use every day for work and play, and pretty much can’t live without.

Chances are, at least one of them is a gadget – your phone, maybe, or your gaming console.

But if you really think about it, chances also are good that many of your most beloved technologies are no longer made of plastic, metal and glass.

Maybe it’s a streaming video service you use to binge watch “Game of Thrones” on or an app that lets you track your steps and calories so you can fit into those jeans you wore back in high school. Maybe it’s a virtual assistant that helps you remember where your meetings are and when you need to take your medicine, or an e-reader that lets you get lost in your favorite book via your phone, tablet or even car speakers.

Perhaps, quietly and without even realizing it, your most beloved technologies have gone from being things you hold to services you rely on, and that exist everywhere and nowhere. Instead of the gadgets themselves, they are tools that you expect to be able to use on any type of gadget: Your phone, your PC, maybe even your TV.

They are part of what Harry Shum, executive vice president in charge of Microsoft’s Technology and Research division, refers to as an “invisible revolution.”

“We are on the cusp of creating a world in which technology is increasingly pervasive but is also increasingly invisible,” Shum said.

Read the full story.

The post Welcome to the invisible revolution appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

Source: The Official Microsoft Blog | 18 Apr 2016 | 9:00 am

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

The post Computer industry luminaries salute Dave Cutler’s 5-decade long quest for quality appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

Source: The Official Microsoft Blog | 15 Apr 2016 | 9:18 am

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

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.


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

The post Cutting-edge workspaces, Internet of Things near-space balloons and using the cloud to help giraffe populations — Weekend Reading: April 15 edition appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

Source: The Official Microsoft Blog | 15 Apr 2016 | 9:00 am

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!

education, Windows 10

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.

education, Class Notebook

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 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.

education, Minecraft, Minecraft Education Edition

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.


The post Microsoft announces teacher-inspired updates for Windows, Office, ‘Minecraft’ appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

Source: The Official Microsoft Blog | 14 Apr 2016 | 9:00 am

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.

The post Ensuring equal pay for equal work appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

Source: The Official Microsoft Blog | 11 Apr 2016 | 1:00 pm

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.

The post Microsoft’s inspired new workspaces boost creativity and collaboration appeared first on The Official Microsoft Blog.

Source: The Official Microsoft Blog | 11 Apr 2016 | 9:00 am

The Emperor's Garden

The Emperor instructed the gardener to set up the new court’s garden. “I want you to plant five trees growing the Crataan fruit,” the Emperor said, “Because we asked people what fruit they like best, and most named the Crataan fruit!”

The gardener replied, “Emperor, that is excellent thinking! But let me make some suggestions: First, how about we make one of the five trees bear the Muran fruit. Only one out of ten citizens loves it, but those peculiar citizens tend to love multiple times as much!”

“Second,” the gardener continued, “How about we make one of the five trees bear the Dratean fruit. No one loves it, but that’s because no one knows it yet!”

“Third,” the gardener said, “How about we leave one spot in the garden empty. Who knows what new type of tree we’ll discover that we can put there in the future!”

“Fourth,” the gardener spoke, the Emperor still seated on his throne, though growingly unrestful, “How about we plant one tree with no fruits at all. Its sparseness will serve as contrast to remind us how grateful we should be for all the other trees.”

“Fifth,” the gardener said, “Let us plant one tree which we’ll pick randomly. We thereby give fate a chance to escape the restrictions of human thinking, and excel even this land’s wisest man – you, my Emperor!”

[By Philipp Lenssen | Origin: The Emperor's Garden | Comments]

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Source: Google Blogoscoped | 26 Aug 2011 | 8:12 am

Color Sound Machine (and what else I've been doing lately)

For those of you who've been wondering whether I had turned to stone, fallen into a bottomless pit, or been climbing the Himalaya... no, none of that is true, even though you probably did notice I'm not actively blogging about Google here anymore*! Just now, a new iPad app I've been working on called Color Sound Machine went live, and this – and all the other apps and games at Versus Pad** – are actually what I am doing while not blogoscoping.

*I've drafted unpublished posts explaining much more about past, present and future of Blogoscoped, and the history of Google news reporting, but ... oh, for now let's just say I've blogged with all of you almost daily for 7 years and loved every bit of it, and hope we continue our conversation in real life and the many digital places we're at!

**Currenly iOS, but Android versions are possible too... the middleware I'm using supports it.

[By Philipp Lenssen | Origin: Color Sound Machine (and what else I've been ... | Comments]

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Source: Google Blogoscoped | 15 Aug 2011 | 12:00 pm

Google drops reverse phone number lookup

One of the earliest specialist services provided by Google was reverse phone number lookup. If you used the “phonebook:” or “rphonebook:” operators together with a 10-digit US phone number, Google would show you the owner of that phone number, unless the number was unlisted.

Google no longer provides that service. Not surprisingly, there was no press release marking the closure, but Google employee Daniel Russell has acknowledged the closure of the service in his blog. He hints at the possible pressures leading to the shuttering of the service:

“As you can imagine, this was an endless source of hassles for people (who were surprised to see themselves searchable on Google) and for Google (who had to constantly deal with all of the takedown requests and outraged letters from folks who thought they were unlisted).”

Daniel points out that you can still do a forward phone number lookup. If you enter a name and a US zip code, a phonebook onebox will be displayed showing the person’s phone number and address. The name must be entered exactly as in the phone book, and the number must not be unlisted.

[By Roger Browne | Origin: Google drops reverse phone number lookup | Comments]

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Source: Google Blogoscoped | 25 Feb 2011 | 6:23 am

Idea: Topical Chat

This website would take the top headlines from a tech or political site for that day – at first just from Reddit (you gotta start somewhere), but later, from other sites too, in aggregated form, similar to Techmeme, but across different topics you can navigate to from the frontpage (entertainment, politics, technology etc.). It would present them in some sort of list of headlines with a link to the discussion source. Below every headline on the frontpage there’s an expandable chat box window. You log-in once into the site and then you can expand any one of these chat boxes, and see who’s in there, and read the chat log, and join yourself with remarks by typing them in a box, similar to IRC and others.

The chat wouldn’t be a replacement of the discussion going on at the other site, but an addition to it. One benefit: a discussion evolving in chat can be very dynamic, and also, late-comers won’t be punished by having their comment be added to the bottom of the page.

After a while, the chat room for that topic of that day is permanently closed, with the chat log made available as a public archive somewhere else.

Now during the chat, every sentence you type can be upvoted, the results of which show in real time in that chat window next to the sentence. Spammers on the other hand can be flagged accordingly, so that they will have problems typing new stuff (provided they have low karma to begin with, and those who flagged them are somewhat trusted users in the system, judged by their own karma record). In the chat log made available in the archive, top-upvoted comments will be highlighted in bold, so that you can quickly scroll through the chat view and see what caught the attention of the crowd at the time.

In the beginning, the site would perhaps just start by showing the top 3 or so topics for the day, because perhaps not many people use the site yet, and chat rooms shouldn’t be empty. As the site grows, so would the diversity of topics and sites it aggregates for its top topics (and it could be ported to other spoken languages). A browser extension could later be made available to dynamically alert you, when browsing a site like Reddit, that there’s a chat available for the page you’re on, so that you can instantly open it; but this extension wouldn’t be too crucial because it would need a huge number of users to be useful, so the typical starting point for most would still be the Topical Chat site itself.

[By Philipp Lenssen | Origin: Idea: Topical Chat | Comments]

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Source: Google Blogoscoped | 16 Dec 2010 | 9:55 am

Idea: CrowdChat

Two groups have a text chat using a web interface, arguing about a certain topic. For Group B to reply to what Group A says, each member of Group B proposes a sentence. Then, each member of Group B quickly votes on which sentence of another member of their group they like best. (You don’t have to propose a sentence, and you don’t have to vote on one; both proposing a sentence as well as voting on one are time-limited to just a certain amount of seconds, though.) Then, the highest-voted sentence will be shown to Crowd A as answer. Crowd A now goes through the same process to formulate a reply directed at Crowd B, and so on.

To join, you can pick any of the two crowds based on reading the chat log, provided this group hasn’t reach its limit of X members (beyond just group size that limit may also depend on how active current members are in writing sentences). If you don’t like what “your” crowd is saying, you can switch groups at any time and then start argue for the other side. (This helps against keeping on defending your previous point of view just to keep face, in other words, you may more easily allow counter-arguments to your old view convince you to change your view.) The lowest number for a group on each side is just one person, upon which the voting process and the time limits will be skipped, and you can just text-chat normally, until another person arrives and joins either group. (If a group consists of just two people, they too skip voting.)

If during a vote two sentences have the same amount of upvotes, a random sentence will be picked. During voting and when the picked sentence is shown, the person who said it will remain anonymous.

[By Philipp Lenssen | Origin: Idea: CrowdChat | Comments]

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Source: Google Blogoscoped | 16 Dec 2010 | 2:26 am

Google Body Browser

If you’re using the Google Chrome developer channel (or Firefox 4 Beta) have a look at the new Body Browser to explore a body in 3D. [Via Google OS.]

[By Philipp Lenssen | Origin: Google Body Browser | Comments]

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Source: Google Blogoscoped | 15 Dec 2010 | 9:17 pm

Pictures of the Cr-48

MBegin in the forum writes:

I ran home for lunch today and was VERY pleasantly surprised to find a Cr-48 Chrome OS Notebook at my doorstep!! -Thanks Google!

I took a few quick pics and I’ll post more about my experiences later...

Feel free to bug MBegin with questions in this post’s comments, just in case he finds time to get around answering them!

I read that 60,000 of these were manufactured, guess there’s more out there if you applied... provided you live in the US (Google doesn’t want to ship to other countries, they told me).

Notice how the keyboard of this cloudbook replaced the Caps lock key with a Search key in above pictures? I’m happy to see the annoying Caps key go, though I wonder how Google wants to ensure we don’t accidentally hit the Search button now all the time.

[Thanks MBegin!]

[By Philipp Lenssen | Origin: Pictures of the Cr-48 | Comments]

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Source: Google Blogoscoped | 10 Dec 2010 | 12:23 am


Using open source technologies from Google, could someone create a tablet that would let you add both Chrome Web Store apps/ web apps in general, as well as Android Market place apps, and you as user wouldn’t even need to bother much about which comes from where as you’d only see a single merged Store, and apps would all be added to a nice homescreen with icons like on the iPad, and apps would always open full-screen no matter if the app maker made it that way or not, and Flash would work too? And would anyone want that thing?

[By Philipp Lenssen | Origin: Chromedroidpad | Comments]

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Source: Google Blogoscoped | 9 Dec 2010 | 7:40 am

Device Evolution

Watching evolution is fun, especially when it happens right around you, and happens so fast. A mutation we saw yesterday was a new animal scientists gave the name “Chrome OS Notebook”, but it’s surrounded by other smart animals of all kinds and shapes. What do they fight for? Their nature are our offices, living rooms, cafes and parks; their food are our individual interests.

Computing devices: the more we have, the less we notice them. Sneaky things, changing the color of their skin on different backgrounds... we don’t even know they’re computers anymore! The sneakier they fade in, the more likely they’ll hunt down our interest when it appears.

You’re in your room, and you just had the idea of going to a cafe to read a newspaper, and perhaps chat with some friends. You can now hear small leafs crack, the surrounding grass rustle, and there’s even some dramatic discovery channel music starting to play. You’re surrounded by smart devices, large and small, elegant and clunky. Some with big screens, some with speakers, some accepting cable of type one, some accepting cable of type two. Some will know when you throw and turn them. Some have a touch screen, others offer a special typing device to please your fingers. Some devices have been put to their desktop drawer grave already because they were starving and never found any of your interests. This is nature... diverse, sometimes cruel.

The device with the smallest screen makes its first move, jumping towards your pocket. It fits right in, is small to carry, can play some casual games! It went by many names in the past, from telephone to phone to mobile phone. But it mutated over the years, growing hair and legs and eyes suited to hunt down all kinds of our interests. “No,” you say, “You’re great for playing games and chatting with friends, but I really want to read a newspaper. Your screen is much too small to comfortably read.”

As you push away the last device – its group status in your room device hierarchy permanently lowered, with giggles all around – a new one comes forth. It’s of much larger size and can be conveniently opened and closed as you carry it. It has a hardware keyboard that allows for a lot of fast typing. It’s connected to the internet, like the rest of the devices, but it can also download programs that please you with super fast graphics. “Notebook PC, you’re great when I want to get work done, I know you the longest, you know I love you even though you transmit all kind of diseases, but you know, I don’t want to work in that cafe I’m going to, and reading newspapers is not really what you excel at.”

The desktop PC at this very moment ponders to also come forward, but then retreats to a darker corner of your desk with a nervous cough. The clunkiest of the beasts, this device realizes its days in evolution might be numbered. It blames it on the Notebook and quietly schemes to kick it off the table one of these nights.

There’s a semi-large-screen device animal jumping up and down begging for your attention, trying to grab that tasty use case of cafe-newspaper-reading-and-perhaps-some-chatting. “Don’t be so desperate my friend,” you’re saying, “I’ll hear you out.” The device introduces itself as “Android OS Tablet” and says its parents were a Tablet PC and a Smart Phone. It claims it has thousands of games, apps, lots of gadgety entertainment, and it can also surf the web. It even offers you books to read on it. Hearing that, the Kindle from up in the book shelf breaks out in laughter and starts to chant “E-Ink! E-Ink! E-Ink” in annoyingly loud voice. The Android device can’t take it anymore and is climbing upwards to shut the Kindle down for good.

“OK,” you say, “that was fun you guys, but let me just pick the iPad here, and fine, I’ll grab the phone for my pocket. The tablet can read newspaper subscriptions, surf the web, there’s some books already downloaded in case I get bored and the connection breaks down, and if I want to chat to someone, I’ll make a phone call.” As you pack your things, the door to your room opens. The light goes out, a spot gets turned on, and someone loops the “sci fi” sound on the synthesizer.

“You know who I am, don’t you.” the device says.

The room goes very quiet. The Kindle and Android device stop in mid-brawl. The Windows Mobile phone temporarily rolls in its grave. The PlayStation Portable jumps on top of the Kinect to get a better view. Even the coffee making device in the next room goes silent.


Silence. The Android OS is quietly pondering to use the time for a surprise punch in the Kindle face, but looking around figures it would be inappropriate. More silence.

“Care to explain?”, you say. In slow monotonous voice, the Chrome OS Notebook tells you its long story. How its grandfather, a browser, had to go through rough times in the war. How his father, a browser himself, met his mother, a traditional PC, and how granddad used to frown upon the relationship. We browsers should stick to our kind, granddad said, and how you two had to meet in dark corners... nothing could stop your love. How he eventually fell out with his cousin Android OS – same family and all, but brought up totally differently – and how the two didn’t call each other for years. Some of the devices are crying by now. The desktop PC even moved closer to the MacBook Air, despite their generation gap.

“To make a long story short, I’m Chrome OS Notebook. You can check your email with me, surf the web, read newspapers online, stream movies, grab casual web apps and simpler games. You can set me up in under a minute and I boot in seconds.” (The Windows Notebook puts on a terrified grimace and suddenly feels very, very sick.) “I can’t do a whole lot offline and can’t play your DVD but online, I’ll be damned if I’m not the very best thing there is.”

You want to take Chrome for a longer test ride one of these days, but you really need to go now, and you grab your newspaper device and your chat device and off you go. On your way to the cafe you ponder who will survive in the wild animal kingdom of your room. And you suspect an answer: whatever device will be versatile enough to grab the largest amount of your interests, whatever device will be the best to fit in to any environment, whatever device will be smartest to adjust to new living circumstances, whatever device can specialize if needed but takes a general approach, whatever device can beat the others by emulating and incorporating their strengths through learning, a device that can blow up its size when required and become really small when not, a device that is perfectly easy to use, a device that rules over the whole ecosystem due to its strength, yet is still lean enough to move quickly.

Yesterday’s mutation wasn’t the last we’ve seen. Watching evolution is fun, and it happens right around us, and right through us.

[By Philipp Lenssen | Origin: Device Evolution | Comments]

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Source: Google Blogoscoped | 8 Dec 2010 | 12:17 am

How to Disable Google Instant Previews

If you find Google’s Instant Previews feature as useless as I do – you know, those images popping up near search results, often similarly unwanted (when triggered by a wrong click) as Snap site previews – maybe this User script is for you. I use several machines and browsers, though, so always installing add-ons when Google rolls out something unwanted is suboptimal in the long run (opening links in a new window is something else I don’t like, for instance, and whenever I disable it – even if I would do so across browsers and machines – it’ll come back the next time I empty my cache, because Google thinks that’s best for people located in China; another feature which I practically never use is the left-hand side bar... perhaps one day we’ll need a Simple Google add-on to get rid of a lot of these things at once).

[Thanks ArpitNext!]

[By Philipp Lenssen | Origin: How to Disable Google Instant Previews | Comments]

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Source: Google Blogoscoped | 16 Nov 2010 | 10:08 pm