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5 ways to protect your Microsoft account

May 15th, 2014 No comments

Your Microsoft account (formerly your Windows Live ID) is the combination of an email address and a password that you use to sign in to services such as Xbox LIVE and Outlook.com, as well as devices such as Windows Phone and computers running Windows 8.

A Microsoft account is free and you can use it to:

  • Purchase apps from the Windows Store
  • Back up all your data using free cloud storage
  • Keep all your devices, photos, friends, games, settings, music, up to date and in sync.

5 ways to help protect your Microsoft account

  1. Create a strong password. Strong passwords use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numerals, punctuation marks, and symbols. The longer the better, and don’t use personal information (such as a pet’s name, nickname, or driver’s license number) that can be easily guessed.
  2. Protect your password. Don’t use the same password you use on other sites, and remember to change your Microsoft account password (as well as other passwords) regularly. Watch out for email social engineering scams designed to trick you into turning over your password to a cybercriminal.
  3. Enable two-step verification. Two-step verification uses two ways to verify your identity whenever you sign in to your Microsoft account. Two-step verification is optional, but we recommend that you use it. Learn how to turn it on.
  4. Make sure the security information associated with your account is current. If the alternate email address or phone number you’ve given us changes, update the settings of your account so that we can contact you if there’s a problem.
  5. Watch out for phishing scams. If you receive an email message about the security of your Microsoft account, it could be a phishing scam. Don’t click links in any messages unless you trust or check with the sender. 

Don’t have a Microsoft account yet? See How do I sign up for a Microsoft account?

Weekend Reading: Dec. 20th Edition–‘Biggest holiday season yet’ for Windows Phone and Windows Store apps

December 20th, 2013 No comments

In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on the momentum building behind Windows Store and Windows Phone Store app downloads, how Bing broke out of the (search) box in 2013 and a Microsoft researcher who uses data to power his predictions.

Buoyed by new gift cards and other promotions, as well as the “biggest holiday season yet,” app development for the Windows Phone Store and Windows Store is going strong. “We’re already seeing momentum build with the (Windows) Store surpassing 12 million transactions per day and Windows Phone Store surpassing 200,000 apps,” writes Todd Brix on the Windows Phone Developers Blog, who encouraged developers to finish and update apps to meet these demands. “Taking into consideration the Microsoft and partner promotions and consumer purchase of Microsoft and Xbox gift cards in retail locations, we are forecasting over $100 million to be available for consumers to buy apps and games this holiday season across 100 retailers in 41 markets.” Some apps and games we highlighted this week include the NORAD Tracks Santa apps, the Staff App Pick: American Airlines and LiveATC, the Amtrak app, Phriz.be, the Gameloft Games collection, “Girls Like Robots,” “Subway Surfers,” “Nemo’s Reef,” Zinio, “Avengers Alliance,” Viber, “Catan” and “Riptide GP2.” To show that you don’t have to be a professional developer to get in on the action, small business owner Holly Shore created her mobile app within hours with Windows Phone App Studio.

In 2013, Bing broke out of the search box. It evolved to power a wider range of services and devices than ever, from voice search in Xbox One to Siri’s Web search results. In Windows 8.1, you can use the Search Charm to explore your files, Web results and more with a single query. Third-party developers can now benefit from Bing technology, including optical character recognition, translation, maps and voice controls, using the new Bing Developer Center. These are just some of the many ways Bing redefined search in this breakout year. You can also check out this infographic for some surprising 2013 stats.

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Microsoft researcher David Rothschild is legendary for his ability to literally predict the future using a unique and rigorous approach to data analysis. He correctly called the results of the 2012 presidential election in every state but one. He nailed 19 of the 24 Oscar categories this past year. And he’s constantly pushing the boundaries of predictive science through experimental live polling, online prediction games and more. In this interview, David Rothschild tells you what to expect in 2014, breaks down his forecasting philosophy, and explains why you should trust professional gamblers more than cable news pundits.

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On Wednesday, University of Colorado Health (UCHealth), one of the state’s largest healthcare providers, announced its migration to Microsoft Office 365. This decision was made in large part due to Microsoft’s long-standing commitment to data security and privacy and because the company supports HIPAA requirements beyond what other vendors provide. Microsoft was the first major IT cloud provider to offer a comprehensive, peer-reviewed Business Associate Agreement (BAA) for all of its customers. The BAA, and its subsequent updates to reflect new product offerings and changes in the law, has been widely accepted within the industry as a best practice, and has helped Microsoft establish itself as a trusted healthcare data steward.

Consumers found big savings on Xbox 360 games, adds-ons, avatars and more with the “Countdown to 2014” daily deals from the Xbox Game Store that began Tuesday, Dec. 17. In addition to those great deals, we saw the debut of the Xbox Video and Xbox Music apps for in the Windows Phone Store. Windows Phone 8 is the only phone that offers Xbox Video support this holiday season, which means you can buy and download favorite movies and TV shows from the Xbox Video service and watch them wherever you go. Use your Xbox Music Pass to stream from a catalog of tens of millions of songs using the Xbox Music service. Also, you can use the Verizon FiOS TV app now on Xbox One and Snap View to watch two programs at the same time.

This week on the Microsoft Facebook page, we helped out last-minute shoppers with eight tech gifts that won’t break the bank and five no-stress downloadable gifts.

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Thanks for stopping by this edition of Weekend Reading. Happy holidays, wherever you are!

Posted by Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff

Weekend Reading: Dec. 6th Edition – Microsoft stands up for customer privacy

December 6th, 2013 No comments

In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on Microsoft’s role in protecting customer data, how 150,000 students, administrators and staff members in Canada have started using Office 365 and Microsoft Research’s first Artist in Residence.

Brad Smith, general counsel and executive vice president of Microsoft’s Legal & Corporate Affairs, wrote about how “many of our customers have serious concerns about government surveillance of the Internet.” He added, “We share their concerns. That’s why we are taking steps to ensure governments use legal process rather than technological brute force to access customer data. Like many others, we are especially alarmed by recent allegations in the press of a broader and concerted effort by some governments to circumvent online security measures – and in our view, legal processes and protections – in order to surreptitiously collect private customer data.”

On Wednesday, Microsoft announced that Canada’s second-largest public school board – the Peel District School Board – has deployed Microsoft Office 365 to more than 150,000 students, administrators and staff members. And, in another big boost for educators, schools and universities that use Office 365 ProPlus for faculty and staff can now extend the service to students for free. Small businesses also received more help in setting up Office 365 from the latest video in the Garage Series, as you can see below.

James George is Microsoft Research’s first Artist in Residence, who is as at home amongst algorithms and software code as he is in galleries and behind a camera. For three months, the Idaho native relocated to Redmond from his current home in Brooklyn as the first Microsoft Research Artist in Residence (AiR). And in a way, it was a homecoming for the University of Washington alum, who graduated with a computer science degree. George straddles that border between art and technology, and has no problem blurring those lines in his work. Starting Dec. 3, his art installation, “Instance,” will inhabit the Studio 99 art space in Redmond, right in the heart of Microsoft Research.

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James George, Microsoft Research’s first Artist in Residence

The week after U.S. Thanksgiving continues the holiday gift-giving frenzy, and we gave you some great ideas to make it less crazy for you. For the DIY set, nifty gifts are close at hand with these tech tips and tools. For the voyagers in your life, these holiday gifts brighten and lighten globe-trotters’ travels. And for that ultimate gift-giver – you know, that jolly guy in the sleigh who makes lots of stops around the world – Microsoft has put a fresh spin on the annual tracking of Santa’s journey through the launch of the 3D, touch-optimized NORAD Tracks Santa project.

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The Bing Maps Preview app for Windows 8.1 brings the world to your fingertips – in 3D. It gives you personalized local recommendations via Local Scout and smart notifications, real-time traffic updates and a 3D mapping experience of more than 70 cities (and counting) across the globe. Read more about it on Next at Microsoft and the Bing Search Blog. Bing also released a report of its top searches in 2013 – with lots of familiar names and faces (Beyonce, Tim Tebow and the Dallas Cowboys among them).

The Windows Store and Windows Phone Store gained apps and games that satisfied both adventure seekers, home buyers and many more shoppers. You had a lot of new choices to shop from this week, including the Staff App Pick: Zillow and the App of the Week: (download NOOK and take advantage of special offers in the U.S., the U.K. and Spain). You can also find “Dungeon Hunter 4” for free from the Windows Store and the Windows Phone Store and manage personal finances through Mint.com from the Windows Store and the Windows Phone Store. A new Lync app for Windows 8.1 now gives you control of a shared screen and other improvements. Yammer – Microsoft’s social networking service for the workplace – just updated all of its apps with an updated design and a long list of handy new features.

If you’re looking for Windows Phone apps, you’ve got a lot to choose from with these deals and new offerings: Super Photo, “Crumble Zone” and “Final Fantasy” (the latest Red Stripe Deals collection in the Windows Phone Store), MyFitnessPal, “Wheel of Fortune” and Cisco WebEx Meetings.

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This week on the Microsoft Facebook page, we watched an internationally renowned wedding and lifestyle photographer capture a wedding using a Lumia 1020.

Thanks for stopping by this edition of Weekend Reading, which is heading into the homestretch as we say the long goodbye to 2013. See you next week!

Posted by Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff

Gobble gobble! 8 apps you need to make it through Thanksgiving!

November 26th, 2013 No comments

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Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate the things we’re thankful for and reconnect with family and friends over a good meal. Here are eight apps for Windows and Windows Phone to help make sure you have a safe, hassle-free and enjoyable holiday.

Bing Food & Drink

The Bing Food & Drink app is a must-have on your tablet or laptop for Thanksgiving. The new app makes it easy to explore recipes from all around the world, choose from more than 100,000 wines and cocktails, and learn tips from celebrity chefs like Wolfgang Puck and Tom Colicchio to make your next meal a taste-tempting success with family and friends. Not that you have to be a celebrity chef to cook a mean bird or get those garlic mashed potatoes just right.

Bing Food & Drink provides immaculate photos (as seen in the screenshot above), easy-to-follow instructions and tools such as a shopping list and meal planner to help you prepare your Thanksgiving dinner. You can also use the app to enter notes or upload your own favorite recipes, and then share them with a single tap of your finger – a great way to make the relatives happy when they ask for your sweet potato pie recipe!

One of the coolest features of the app is its “Hands Free Mode.” Here’s how it works: Let’s say you’re preparing Swedish meatballs and you’re ready to move on to the next step in the recipe, only your hands are all sticky from handling the ingredients. No worries in THIS kitchen. With the “Hands Free Mode,” you can navigate recipes with a simple wave of your hand. No more messy fingers on your device’s glossy, pristine gorilla glass!

On a related note, the Rachael Ray show will feature Colicchio on Dec. 3. During the show, he will show off some of his favorite cooking items, including the Bing Food & Drink app. Don’t miss it!

Thanksgiving Recipes

Thanksgiving Recipes by iFood.TV

Thanksgiving Recipes by ifood.tv has everything you need to prepare an awesome meal. As soon as I open the app on my Surface, I’m greeted by a menu of tiles that includes video recipe categories such as cakes, casseroles, drinks, gravy, pie, sauce, soup and stuffing. And, of course, there are countless turkey recipes – roast turkey, cider brined turkey, turkey with almonds and apricots and more.

You can also search by course, ingredients, method, taste and interest. Maybe you don’t want to do the traditional turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing meal. My wife is from New Orleans, which means I eat a lot of Southern food. We’re giving serious consideration to replacing one of our regular side dishes with a chicken and sausage gumbo recipe that we found in the Thanksgiving Recipes app.

If you’re like me and you have more success watching someone else prepare a recipe as opposed to following one from a book, then Thanksgiving Recipes and its massive library of thousands of videos might just be right up your alley. You can find it in the Windows Store.

Prefer to cook with your Windows Phone close by? I also recommend Yumvy and AllRecipes.

Cocktail Flow

Cocktail Flow for Windows

Cocktail Flow is one of my favorite apps for when my wife and I entertain guests. I am not a connoisseur of cocktails by any stretch of the imagination, but this app for Windows and Windows Phone sure goes a long way in helping me make passable drinks for my friends and family.

The first thing you’ll notice about the app is its sleek, sparse and easy-to-navigate set-up. You don’t need to know a thing about making cocktails to get started. The app has three guides for entry-level cocktail creation that go into measurement units (what does it mean when a recipe calls for “one part Bourbon whiskey, one part Sambuca”?), glassware, barware and garnishes.

One of my favorite features in Cocktail Flow is the Cabinet. Here’s how it works: you swipe through a menu of spirits, mixers and liqueurs, selecting the ones you have in your actual bar cabinet and Cocktail Flow will generate drink ideas for you. For example: in your bar you’ve got some vodka, gin and bourbon whiskey, as well as some sugar syrup, grenadine, lemon juice and orange juice and some triple sec. Whammo! Cocktail Flow comes up with 11 different drinks you can make for your guests.

The app also breaks down drinks by spirit and by color. So, if someone asks for something with rum in it, all you have to do is tap on the rum category. If someone asks for something red or blue, all you have to do is tap the red or blue category. Easy peasy!

Alcohol Free Drink Recipes

And for those Thanksgiving guests who don’t drink, there’s always the Alcohol Free Drink Recipes app for Windows Phone.

The app has more than 200 alcohol-free drink recipes to choose from. The app breaks down drinks by category – soft drinks, shakes, cocoa, cocktails and coffee and tea.

Wait, cocktails? You bet. Ever heard of an Afterglow? It’s one part grenadine, 4 parts orange juice and 4 parts pineapple juice. Mix and serve over ice. Done. What about a Cranberry Bomber? Four ounces of cranberry juice, ½ ounce of OJ, two tablespoons of grenadine, one tea spoon of honey and a dash of cola. Garnish with a slice of lemon. (Of course.)

You can also add any drinks you have a particular taste for to your Favorites list using the menu bar.

Instagram

Instagram

Thanksgiving is a great time to reconnect with those family and friends you don’t get to see as often as you’d like throughout the year, and one of the best ways to capture those precious moments is on your smartphone’s camera. Pair that with the newly arrived Instagram app for Windows Phone, and you’ve got a great combination. Grab a picture from your Windows Phone Photos Hub, choose a filter to transform its look and feel, then post to Instagram – it’s that easy.

You can even share to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Foursquare right from the app. Turn everyday moments into works of art with Instagram for Windows Phone 8. The new app is now available for free in the Windows Phone Store!

Waze

Waze for Windows Phone 8

Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go, right? Lots of us spend at least a little time in the car and on the roads on or around Thanksgiving, shuttling from one relative’s house to another. The last thing we want to deal with is holiday traffic, if it can be at all avoided.

Sometimes, your best sources for the most up-to-date traffic and road reports are other drivers ahead of you – and the free Waze app now available for Windows Phone 8 devices can deliver their advice exactly when you need it.

Using crowd-sourced info, Waze plugs you into a network of drivers who share real time traffic alerts and road info to find you the best route in real-time. With just a tap, you can join the Waze community of drivers and share your own reports about traffic, accidents, road closures and more to improve everyone’s daily commute.

Other perks include automatic re-routing as conditions on the road change, and personalization as the app learns your frequent destinations, commuting hours and preferred routes. Waze can also notify a person that you’re on your way by sending a live ETA and a link showing you as you drive, and also helps find the cheapest gas station along your route.

Bing Weather App

Bing Weather App for Windows Phone

It’s equally important to stay mindful of the weather as you travel about by plane, train and automobile for the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s easy to do that with the Bing Weather App for both Windows and Windows Phone.

The app helps you prepare for the latest conditions with hourly, daily and 10-day forecasts. It allows you to compare weather from multiple providers, check radar maps and view historical weather. You can also get current weather information for your location and for the other places you care about, like a family member’s city or your next vacation destination.

The Maps feature allows you to go deep in detail with radar, temperature, precipitation, cloud and satellite maps. And for those planning to hit the slopes while on vacation over Thanksgiving, there’s even a feature that lets you check the weather at ski resorts around the world with snow forecasts, ski trail maps, ski deals and news, Web cams and 360-degree panoramas.

Bing Sports App

Bing Sports App for Windows Phone

Watching football on Thanksgiving has become as much a staple of our holiday tradition as cranberry sauce and apple pie. As in years past, there will be three NFL games televised: The Green Bay Packers versus the Detroit Lions at 12:30 p.m. ET on Fox, the Oakland Raiders versus the Dallas Cowboys at 4:30 p.m. ET on CBS and the Pittsburgh Steelers versus the Baltimore Ravens at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

It won’t be easy though, keeping up with all that football between eating dinner, catching up with old friends and family and shooting photos with your Windows Phone. So, you’d better have the Bing Sports App for Windows Phone so you can stay up to speed on the top scores, top stories, slideshows and videos. Both the Windows and Windows Phone apps are highly customizable, so I can follow news, scores and stats from my favorite sports and my favorite teams. Plus, I can even pin my favorite team to my start screen, creating a tile for one-touch access to all the latest team updates.

You might also be interested in:

· Wave your hands to control content on Redbox Instant by Verizon for Xbox One
· New Walgreens app for Windows 8 makes prescription refills and photo printing easy
· German hospital uses Microsoft technologies to create an intelligent operating room

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog