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Weekend Reading: Dec. 13th Edition – Microsoft introduces the Cloud OS Network

December 13th, 2013 No comments

In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on Microsoft’s new Cloud OS Network, Xbox One sales and a gift guide for goodies under 100 bucks to help you get through the holidays.

On Thursday, Microsoft introduced the Cloud OS Network, a worldwide group of more than 25 leading cloud service providers who have embraced our Cloud OS vision and will deliver hosted services built on the Microsoft Cloud Platform, which includes Windows Server with Hyper-V, System Center and the Windows Azure Pack. To get the rest of the story, read this post on The Official Microsoft Blog from Takeshi Numoto, corporate vice president of Cloud and Enterprise Marketing, and watch the video below.

Xbox One sales totaled more than 2 million in first 18 days. Since its Nov. 22 launch, sales have averaged more than 111,111 units a day, a record-setting pace for Xbox. “We continue to be humbled and overwhelmed by the positive response from our fans,” said Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of strategy and marketing, Xbox. “Demand is exceeding supply in our 13 launch markets and Xbox One is sold out at most retailers. The Xbox team is continuing to work hard to meet consumer demand, delivering consoles to retailers as fast as possible this holiday season.” To help people find Xbox One, Major Nelson recently shared some tips for consumers this holiday season.

Xbox_Times_Square_3

If you’re feeling the holiday pinch, in terms of time and cash, we’ve got some great gift ideas for under $100. There’s plenty of cool technology options that won’t break the bank, including Microsoft’s Wireless Mouse 3500 Studio Series Artist Edition, Nokia Lumia 925 Windows Phone device and a 12-month Xbox Live Gold Membership. Check out those ideas and more in the slideshow below, and see other ways people are using technology at Made Possible by Microsoft.


Affordable gifts for tech lovers
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Turn heads wherever you go with this phone’s unique metal design and polycarbonate back. With SkyDrive built in, your photos are automatically backed up to protect your holiday memories. $49 with two-year contract at AT&T; $0 up front with two-year contract at T-Mobile (pricing may vary).
Nokia Lumia 925 Windows Phone
December 12, 2013
Turn heads wherever you go with this phone’s unique metal design and polycarbonate back. With SkyDrive built in, your photos are automatically backed up to protect your holiday memories. $49 with two-year contract at AT&T; $0 up front with two-year contract at T-Mobile (pricing may vary).
Image: Web | Print

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New security features were being rolled out this week to give Microsoft account users more visibility and control of their accounts. Last spring, we released two-step verification. Since then, many users said they would like to get more insight into activities on their accounts. “So we added a new view that allows you to see your sign-ins and other account activities,” wrote Eric Doerr, Group Program Manager, Microsoft Account. As you can see in the example below, different types of activity are now visible to you, including “successful and unsuccessful sign-ins, the addition and deletion of security information and more.” If you do see something suspicious, “there’s an easy ‘This wasn’t me’ button that will help you take steps to protect your account.”

Security 1682_Activity_thumb_37FA155A

Microsoft joined AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter and Yahoo in calling for reforms in government surveillance. “People won’t use technology they don’t trust. Governments have put this trust at risk, and governments need to help restore it,” wrote Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel and executive vice president, Legal & Corporate Affairs. While many recent revelations have focused on the U.S. government, he said, “in reality this is a global issue. It requires coordinated steps to ensure the flow of information across borders and avoid conflicts between governments. By definition, the world needs a global discussion.” Microsoft and other industry leaders suggest principles for government reform at a new site, ReformGovernmentSurveillance.com.

It was the week that could change young lives forever, and it involved an “Hour of Code.” Many from Microsoft worldwide participated in the annual “Hour of Code” event, giving an hour – and in many cases, more – of their own time to teach students to code. “Right now, less than 2.4 percent of college students graduate with a degree in computer science, yet computer programming jobs are growing at twice the national average and are among the top paying fields,” wrote Satya Nadella, executive vice president, Cloud and Enterprise, at Microsoft. “Hour of Code” is sponsored by Code.org, the nonprofit organization that Microsoft is a founding member of, which is dedicated to “growing computer science education by making it available in more schools.” If you missed it, check out these Microsoft sites for some quick coding lessons: Kodu Game Lab and TouchDevelop.

From the “breathtaking” category of the week’s events, a preview version of the new Photosynth was released. On the Bing Search Blog, the Photosynth team wrote that the preview version represents “the next phase of our ground-breaking experience that analyzes digital photographs to generate three-dimensional views of real world spaces.” Combined with the recent release of Bing Maps Preview for Windows 8, the team hopes this will be a “step forward toward our goal of creating a digital replica of the planet with an immersive 3D way to traverse and explore the world.” The New York Times headline put it another way: “Updated Microsoft Photosynth Makes HDTV Look Low-Resolution.”

Ceiling of Palau de la Musica Catalania by David on Photosynth

This week on the Microsoft Facebook page, we made holiday shopping a little easier with six awesome ultrabooks, four great touchscreen laptops and seven amazing tablets.

Holiday Collage

That’s it for this edition of Weekend Reading. Hope you get some time to relax and rest up this weekend, in between all the holiday shopping. We’ll see you next week!

Posted by Suzanne Choney
Microsoft News Center Staff

Microsoft Cloud OS Network lanseras idag

Idag lanseras Microsoft Cloud OS Network, ett globalt konsortium av mer än 25 molntjänsteleverantörer som tillhandahåller tjänster som bygger på Microsoft Cloud Platform: Windows Server med Hyper-V, System Center och Windows Azure Pack.

 

Företagen som gått med i nätverket ställer sig bakom Microsofts Cloud OS vision om en enhetlig plattform som spänner över kunddatacenter, Windows Azure och leverantörsmoln. Medlemmarna i Cloud OS Network erbjuder Microsoft-validerad, molnbaserad infrastruktur och applikationslösningar som är utformade för att möta kundernas behov.

 

Läs mer om Cloud OS Network i den internationella Microsoftbloggen. Om du är nyfiken på att höra leverantörernas perspektiv så berättar Telecomputing om sitt engagemang här.

 

Service Providers light up the Cloud OS

December 12th, 2013 No comments

The following post is from Takeshi Numoto, Corporate Vice President, Cloud and Enterprise Marketing, Microsoft.


Today, Microsoft introduced the Cloud OS Network, a worldwide group of more than 25 leading cloud service providers who have embraced our Cloud OS vision and will deliver hosted services built on the Microsoft Cloud Platform, which includes Windows Server with Hyper-V, System Center and the Windows Azure Pack. This announcement represents important progress against our goals and strategy for Cloud OS. More importantly, it is great news for enterprise customers across the globe.

It’s no secret that cloud computing is a revolution in the world of IT. Companies everywhere, of every size, are looking to capitalize on the cloud, in order to harness big data, manage BYOD and deliver powerful apps to wide range of devices. Ultimately, it’s all about key business drivers like creating new opportunities more quickly, improving employee productivity and lowering costs. Here at Microsoft, we think we’re the best bet for customers because we alone provide a consistent, enterprise-grade platform that is hybrid by design, and one that is based on our experience delivering more than 200 cloud services to billions of people. With the investments and people they already have in place, enterprise customers can tackle big challenges and opportunities of the cloud era using the same Microsoft technologies across their private clouds, the Windows Azure public cloud and service-provider clouds.

Hybrid cloud computing allows customers to make decisions about where to host their applications and data based on business needs, not technology limitations. This makes it possible for organizations to make the most of IT by keeping mission-critical data or applications on-premises, for example, while also accessing almost limitless computing power and storage in the cloud. They can truly enjoy the benefits of datacenters without boundaries.

As one of the fastest-growing segments in the IT industry, cloud service providers play the critical role in our Cloud OS vision. Our overall community of service providers – more than 16,500 infrastructure hosting partners and nearly 10,000 application hosters – is the largest in the industry, and we added 5,000 partners just in the last year.

The members of the Cloud OS Network are leading service providers who will offer hybrid services that give customers greater flexibility and choice. By making a substantial commitment to the Microsoft Cloud Platform, they are able to deliver tailored infrastructure and application services that meet diverse customer needs. Customers will have greater choice in customization, data sovereignty, security, privacy and service levels. For example, Cloud OS Network partner Outsourcery in the United Kingdom is driving an initiative to provide compliant cloud services for U.K. government agencies, as part of its O-Cloud Platform for small, medium and large enterprises.

Together, the Cloud OS Network partners operate in more than 90 countries, serve over 3 million customers every day and manage over 2.4 million servers in more than 425 datacenters. They are all leaders in their geographies and markets, and we are honored by their commitment to support the Cloud OS vision with hybrid solutions for our mutual customers.

Another great example, TeleComputing in Norway and Sweden, delivers more than 2,400 hosted applications to more than 800 businesses. As part of our partnership with them, they are migrating their massive VMware environment to Hyper-V. Tieto, the largest IT services company in Finland, offers the Tieto Productivity Cloud with the goal of making the acquisition of IT resources as simple as Spotify. T-Systems, wholly owned by Deutsche Telekom, is the largest outsourcer in Germany. They are rolling out a new infrastructure-as-a-service offering that will allow large corporate customers to move data from the public cloud to more secure private clouds. SingTel is Asia’s leading telco and ICT group. With their participation in the Cloud OS Network, they will deliver their first truly hybrid offerings, focusing on database-as-a-service, disaster recovery and productivity solutions using Microsoft Lync and Exchange. Here in the U.S., CSC’s cloud services have received top ranking by industry analyst firm Gartner.

If you follow Microsoft and cloud computing, you’ve certainly heard and seen us promote Windows Azure. Our investment and commitment to Azure as a global cloud platform is enormous. But so is our belief in hybrid cloud and that there are going to be many, many clouds around the world due to the tremendous variety of customers and needs. The Cloud OS Network and our partnerships with its members demonstrate our focus on providing choice and flexibility to customers. And it’s all based around the promise of the three connected clouds – private, public and service provider.

Categories: Cloud Computing, Windows Azure Tags:

First prize for Nobel Media’s scalable and reliable website, run on Windows Azure

December 10th, 2013 No comments

Mattias Fyrenius, CEO of Nobel Media, and Richard Lind, director of Technology and Platforms at Microsoft Sweden, tell us more about the collaboration and future plans in the video above.

With the Nobel Prizes awarded Tuesday, the Nobel organization’s website is being inundated with visitors from around the globe who want to read all the details.

Every year, the world is watching when Nobel Prizes are awarded to leading figures that are changing the world for the better.  When the prestigious Laureates are announced in October and when they receive their prizes in December, the Nobel Prize website sees a 100 fold increase in visitors – taking traffic up to as many as 3 million hits in just one week. 

“Our users are demanding users,” Mattias Fyrenius, CEO of Nobel Media, the company responsible for managing and developing media rights connected to the Nobel Prize.  “We cannot fail in the week during October and during that week in December.  We have to be up and running, we have to deliver a good service, and we have to have a partner that can handle that type of volume and that type of quality.”

With the pressure to deliver a reliable service to the public, Nobel Media placed their trust in Microsoft and made the decision to migrate its systems to Windows Azure just weeks before the Laureates were to be announced in October 2013.  Nobel Media’s faith was repaid and the migration was a resounding success, with visitors experiencing a smooth and reliable service throughout the busy period.

But Windows Azure wasn’t just selected for its ability to deliver during peak times of traffic.  It also provides the necessary scalability (both up and down) to allow Nobel Media to service a smaller number of visitors beyond the busy announcement periods. From a technical perspective, the fact that Windows Azure is open is another huge bonus, as it is able to cater for Nobel Media’s LAMP Stack-based solution, built on non-Microsoft technologies.

The relationship Microsoft has developed with Nobel Media is one that both parties believe will flourish. “Nobel obviously gives out prizes for deeds that are good for mankind, and which are closely linked to education, which is something that is very dear to the heart of Microsoft too. Helping such a prestigious brand for such a noble cause is something that we are very proud of,” says Richard Lind, Director of Technology and Platforms at Microsoft Sweden.

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Jennifer Chen
Microsoft News Center Staff

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Windows Azure Services coming to Brazil

December 4th, 2013 No comments

On Wednesday, Microsoft announced it will invest in the development of a new Windows Azure region in Brazil. The investment represents an important step in the company’s cloud expansion strategy and its commitment to the country and Latin America.

Worldwide, Windows Azure is currently available in 89 countries and 19 currencies, and Microsoft will expand this into Brazil in the first half of 2014. As Steven Martin, general manager of Windows Azure, says in a post over on the Windows Azure Blog, the Windows Azure Brazil Region will provide better performance for local companies through reduced latency. Additionally, customers will be able to opt for Locally Redundant Storage (LRS), which will maintain three copies of their data in Brazil, preserving data residency.

Companies of all sizes are using and benefiting from Windows Azure in Brazil, including Boa Vista Serviços, Globosat and Linx, which rely on Windows Azure to run their businesses. 

For the rest of this story, head on over to the Windows Azure Blog and read this press release.

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Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog

Categories: Cloud Computing, Windows Azure Tags:

NORAD Tracks Santa project goes 3D, touch-device optimized with some help from Microsoft

December 3rd, 2013 No comments

The following post is from Roger Capriotti, senior director of product marketing, Microsoft. It was originally published on The Fire Hose.


 The redesigned homepage for NORAD Tracks Santa.

The redesigned homepage for NORAD Tracks Santa.

Every December, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (“NORAD”) serves the important role of ensuring that Santa’s journey around the world is safe. Since 1955, children of all ages have tracked his route with the help of NORAD’s radar, satellites and jet fighters. This year, Microsoft has lent a hand to make the experience the most magical yet, putting a fresh spin on the time-honored tradition with the launch of the new www.NORADSanta.org.

This isn’t the first time Microsoft has worked with NORAD Tracks Santa. Last year, we provided our interactive Bing Maps to give people at home an interactive visual of Santa’s whereabouts on Christmas Eve, which was powered by Windows Azure, as well as apps for Windows and Windows Phone that allowed people a platform to play and learn.

This year, we are raising the bar particularly around the Web experience, which brings holiday cheer to tens of millions of people every year. The Internet Explorer team in particular had a vision for how to fuse the possibilities of the modern Web with the magic of Santa. Inspired by NORAD Tracks Santa’s long history and the Claymation style classic holiday movies, the Internet Explorer team partnered with NORAD to rebuild the Web experience from the ground up.

Santa’s interactive North Pole Village is featured on www.NORADSanta.org

Santa’s interactive North Pole Village is featured on www.NORADSanta.org.

The new online experience is more than just a way to track Santa on Dec. 24. It lets you immerse yourself in the holiday throughout the month of December. With a nostalgic, 3D Claymation look and feel, the new site features a recreation of Santa’s village that you can explore to discover new games daily, music, videos and more. The site is fully touch-enabled, which makes for a truly immersive experience, if you are using a touch device. On Dec. 24, a touch-enabled 3-D globe will light up as Santa begins his journey worldwide. With a modern browser like IE11, you will be able to spin the globe with a swipe of a finger and pinch and zoom to get an in-depth look at Santa’s stops. Bing Maps is at the heart of the journey again. Whether you’re mapping Santa’s route in a browser on a computer or in an app, you’ll see beautiful, high-fidelity images. Bing Maps is the canvas on which Santa’s journey is plotted.

“The Internet Explorer team and everyone at Microsoft have taken the spirit of the holidays that’s central to what we do with NORAD Tracks Santa and helped bring it to today’s modern web and devices,” Stacey Knott, NORAD Tracks Santa Program Manager, told us. “We’re hearing so many fun comments from people who are checking out the new website and apps and love what they see.”

Of course, the magic doesn’t stop there. Many people love to watch Santa’s progress on the site, and call the NORAD hotline to get the latest news straight from the command center. While you can still dial the number from a telephone, voice calling enabled by Skype this year means that with just one click, you and your kids can interact with the NORAD Tracks Santa Command Center to check in on Santa’s status any time you want.

 Santa’s arcade is one of the featured games on the site. New ones are available daily leading up to Christmas.

Santa’s arcade is one of the featured games on the site. New ones are available daily leading up to Christmas.

We’ve also made it easier than ever to track Santa with apps for Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone. The Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 apps will feature live tiles that allow you to track Santa straight from your start screen. And behind the curtain, Windows Azure keeps the whole thing running amidst the incredibly high traffic anticipated for Dec. 24.

This has been quite the journey for us, though it’s nothing compared to the one Santa will make later this December. For a look into NORAD’s history and our work with them, check out our mini-documentary on modernizing the tradition. And, make sure to try your hand at the games unveiled each day and track Santa on Dec. 24 at www.NORADSanta.org.

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VM Depot repository off to a flying start

February 11th, 2013 No comments

It’s been just one month since Microsoft Open Technologies announced the early preview of VM Depot, a community-driven catalog of open source virtual machine images. Today we are proud to announce that the community has rallied to our call and already produced over 100 images. We are thrilled at the reception this preview has received and there are more images appearing every day. VM Depot, even in preview, is already a valuable resource for open source projects and their communities. On VM Depot the community can build, deploy and share their favorite Linux configuration, create custom open source stacks, work with others and build new architectures for the cloud that leverage the openness and flexibility of the Windows Azure platform.

We already have a range of base Linux distributions upon which you can build new images. These include, but are not limited to, Debian, Centos, Ubuntu and Mageia. There are images that include “big brand” open source projects such as WordPress, Drupal as well as developer stacks such as the LAMP, Ruby Stack and Apache Tomcat. All these are complemented nicely by more niche projects such as the Moodle course management system and PhPCompta, an accounting application adapted to Belgian legislation. Each day we are seeing more and more open source software published on VM Depot for deployment to Windows Azure. I can only thank the growing community for so fully embracing the VM Depot preview. It’s great to arrive here at Microsoft just as this is taking off, I look forward to working with you as we go from strength to strength.

If you haven’t already done so, now is a really good time to take a look at the ever growing range of images available. If you have an Azure subscription, you’re ready to try it out, if not you can quickly sign up for a free 90-day trial subscription. In addition to being able to deploy from your Azure portal we have provided cross-platform command line tools that give you all the control you need. All we ask is that you remember this is a community effort so please rate and comment on any images you try out. This will help users find the best images and help maintainers ensure they are meeting user’s needs.

Should the image you are looking for not be available yet you can let the community know via the VM Depot forums, with luck someone else will have the same need and publish their image for you. Alternatively, you can build and publish an image yourself. Instructions for publishing and managing images are available on the VM Depot website. If you need any assistance please post to the forums where I or another community member will be pleased to help you.

It is clear from the communities uptake of VM Depot that open source is front and center on Windows Azure, with your help we look forward to building on the early momentum this preview release has generated.

For your OSS image building and sharing pleasure … meet VM Depot from MS Open Tech

January 9th, 2013 No comments

By Gianugo Rabellino
Senior Director Open Source Communities
Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc.

As I write this, I’m exploring the public preview of VM Depot, a new service from Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc. VM Depot is a community-driven catalog of open source virtual machine images for Windows Azure. On VM Depot the community can build, deploy and share their favorite Linux configuration, create custom open source stacks, work with others and build new architectures for the cloud that leverage the openness and flexibility of the Windows Azure platform.

The preview launch of VM Depot today is an introduction of things to come: you can already easily deploy different Linux-based virtual machines that include custom and curated installations and configurations. (We have the latest, full-fledged distributions of Debian, Alt Linux and Mageia for your hacking pleasure.) You can comment on them. You can rate them. And, what’s more, you can remix them to your liking and possibly share the results with other members of the community. Or why don’t you go ahead and just create a new one from scratch with your favorite software? For ultimate speed, you can quickly deploy images already customized for specific business scenarios. All this is just a few clicks away, completely free of charge and just waiting for your input to make it better. To learn more, see Getting Started with VM Depot.

VM Depot is another illustration of how the Azure platform is effectively open. As complex as it may seem, VM Depot was relatively easy to build as it relies exclusively on published Azure APIs. As we explore the meaning of openness and interoperability of cloud platforms, I can now say that Windows Azure is at the forefront of the debate and provides compelling proof that documented APIs can do wonders to enable building amazing new applications that leverage the cloud.

Some days you can’t help smiling. I had a big smile on my face back in June when Microsoft announced it was making preconfigured Linux images available in Windows Azure gallery and today I have another reason to be happy as I see how Microsoft Open Technologies is helping open source communities work even more collaboratively with the Windows Azure platform.

VM Depot wouldn’t have been possible without the support of a number of partners who have contributed images and packages for this preview launch, including Alt Linux, Basho, Bitnami and Hupstream. Here what they have to say about VM Depot:

“Ease of deployment is one of the key discussions we have with all of the companies leveraging Riak for their highly-available, scalable data storage needs. The VM Depot indicates that Microsoft Open Technologies is dedicated to supporting the needs of today’s enterprise with the Windows Azure Platform” – Tyler Hannan, Director of Technical Marketing, Basho Technologies, Inc.

“The launch of Azure Virtual Images and now the VM Depot demonstrate that Microsoft is serious about building out its cloud computing platform. We are thrilled to be a part of this new marketplace, which simplifies deployment of the top open source applications to the enterprise-ready Azure platform, taking Windows Azure to a whole new level.” – Erica Brescia, CEO of BitRock, developers of Bitnami

“The demand for cloud computing is there, and Hupstream had the skills to adapt a distribution to the specifics of cloud computing, and provide support as needed. We also wanted to make Debian and Mageia more accessible, and cloud platforms are the simplest way to get started. This was also an opportunity to establish a conversation between actors that traditionally shun each other. Notably, we had excellent collaboration with Microsoft engineers and other community members, while working on a common goal: expanding the reach of developers with Linux.” – Romain d’Alverny, Managing Partner & Engineer at hupstream

I have been doing a fair amount of traveling for MS Open Tech lately where I’ve met a number of great people from the open source community. After a wonderful holiday break, we’re off to an exciting and busy New Year. I know I will use every free moment this month to peek at the VM Depot dashboard and see our latest creation take its first baby steps. Expect more in the upcoming weeks and please help us make VM Depot the best place for open source communities to work together and build shared images for the cloud. See you there.

Categories: Linux, Open Source, Windows Azure Tags:

Windows Azure Host Updates: Why, When, and How

August 22nd, 2012 No comments

Windows Azure’s compute platform, which includes Web Roles, Worker Roles, and Virtual Machines, is based on machine virtualization. It’s the deep access to the underlying operating system that makes Windows Azure’s Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) uniquely…(read more)

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