About the author  ⁄ Suril Amin

Suril is a scientist, journalist and obsessive Microsoft observer. He holds an advanced degree in Biotechnology with minors in Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology. Send him tips on twitter: http://www.twitter.com/surilamin

We reported some time back that Microsoft was more interested in having Alan Mulally on the board rather than its next CEO.  Mulally was primarily being pushed by investors to become Microsoft’s next CEO as they believed he would sell off many parts of the company.  Alan Mulally has officially confirmed what the world suspected. He’s not leaving Ford to become Microsoft’s next CEO.  He has promised to stay on with Ford until at least 2014, reports the AP.  The odds that he planned to leave Ford for Microsoft got pretty slim last month, when a Ford board member said, “Alan is staying through the end of 2014 and that’s all I know.”  At that time, Mulally said, “I love serving Ford … I have no change to the plan.”  Not everyone believed that he would say no to Microsoft if asked. But now that he has confirmed that he ...

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We have not seen too many former colleagues publicly speak out about Jon DeVaan or George Grant outside of Steven Sinofsky.  But as it turns out Hal Berenson has worked with both DeVaan and George Grant.  Of course here at MSNews we are fans of Hal’s who writes a great blog entitled Hal2020. For those not familiar with Mr. Berenson, he is a former Microsoft distinguished engineer and worked at the company from 1994 – 2002 and spent decades at the Digital Equipment Corporation before that.  Due to his experiences Hal often provides a unique perspective and earlier today he shared his thoughts on DeVaan and Grant. Hal on Job DeVaan: I interacted with Jon a little in his time in Online Services and then we worked together extensively (on Quests) when he was running the Core OS group during Windows 7.  Steven Sinofsky got the public credit for how good ...

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A group that calls itself the Syrian Electronic Army has gained access to the Skype social media accounts and is posting messages asking Skype to “stop spying on people.”  The Skype twitter account has over 3 million followers.  The group has also compromised the Skype blog.   Microsoft is aware of the situation and is working to resolve it. h/t @ProfJeffJarvis ...

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As we look at 2014, Dell is now the only major OEM that is a privately owned company.  Dell was a publically traded company for 25 years, its IPO was in 1988, a mere two years after Microsoft’s own IPO.   The $24.4 billion buyout orchestrated by Michael Dell is the largest leveraged buyout backed by private equity since the 2007 financial crisis. It is also the largest technology buyout ever.  Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners put together most of the money with the addition of a $2 billion loan from Microsoft. The “new” private company has released an ad emphasizing its own startup roots: The ad also featured a number of companies that are important customers of Dell’s or Dell Ventures invested in including Amerijet, Gilt.com, The Knot, Overstock.com, Salesforce.com, Shazam, Shutterfly, TripAdvisor, and Zoosk.  It is quite common for large corporations to invest in small start-up and we have ...

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The Tower Game Starter Kit is a simple, open-source (MIT licensed) javascript game engine designed specifically to help you skip “square one” on your way to creating a great Tower Assault or Defense game. Included in the github source repository are project files for Windows 8 Store apps that run on win8 tablets, desktop, and windows RT devices, as well as a project that compiles to Windows Phone 8. In addition, the game runs great on all modern desktop web browsers. Features include: silky-smooth 60fps on most platforms levels that are larger than the screen spritesheet animation of in-game characters touch-screen and mouse controls music and sound effects particle effects and eye-candy a full game complete with a beginning, middle and end little extras like a low-level C++ sound engine for wp8 lots of debug log and benchmarking functionality a-star pathfinding for A.I. movement entities have health (with visible health ...

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We reported on Project Siena a few days back.  It is a Metro app that allows you to create Metro apps with a minimal amount of coding.  The app is currently in beta and does allow project to be submitted to the Windows Store, however there is a workaround.  Note, this is an interim method that leverages the Store wizards in Visual Studio Express, you will not need to do any programming, but there will likely be an easier way to do this down the line. Prerequisites Register for a Developer Account: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/apps/jj193592.aspx. Have “Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows 8” installed. Free download from http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=30664. (Not Express 2013). Produce the app Create your app in Project Siena and publish it (File | Publish) to a destination on your machine. This produces a folder called PublishedPackage. Double click on InstallApp.exe within this folder and choose “Install on this PC” – if prompted, sign in ...

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One demographic Bing has been lacking in is getting more women to use its service.  The company is trying to change and has put together a new ad about ‘heroic women’ and their contributions in 2013.  The ad is airing on tv in many markets over new years eve. The ad features the Sara Bareilles’ song “Brave” seen in many Windows marketing “honestly” campaigns.  Now we have seen feminists get angry when Microsoft makes Xbox ads that appeal to men.  However, as a man I am in no way offended by this ad that appeals to women and hope to see the company do more in the future. The ad features a number of women including: Malala Yousafzai Who stood up to educate us all. After surviving an assassination attempt, she arose stronger than ever.  In 2013 she addressed the UN, was named one of Time’s “100 Most Influential People” and, at ...

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Another day, another Sinofsky lieutenant leaving the Redmond software giant.  As with Jon DeVaan, it’s not a surprise that George Grant is leaving as Terry Myerson forced him out and replaced him with Mike Fortin.  Sinofsky and Grant go way back to the Office days in 1994.  For those unfamiliar with Grant, a brief bio: Grant George was the Corporate Vice President of Testing and Operations – Windows Experience Group, in the Platforms & Services Division. The Windows Experience Group is an integrated system of programs, services and solutions that largely make up the Windows Client experience – designed to work together to address a broad array of customer problems and needs. George is directly responsible test teams and test engineering as well as internal engineering operations in the Windows Experience Group. George has additional responsibility to drive engineering standards and methods with other leader-partners across the broader Windows teams ...

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Robert W. Wilson, the hedge fund founder who committed suicide at age 87 over the weekend, was known as one of the most active philanthropists in the country. But his style of giving was radically opposed to that of Bill Gates, who asked Wilson to join his Giving Pledge for the ultra-rich — and was rebuffed in a series of caustic emails. In emails from 2010 the hedge fund manager tells Gates that the pledge is essentially “worthless” and that he wants to “stay far away” from his effort. —— Original Message ——- From: Bill Gates To: Robert W. Wilson Sent: Wednesday, June 16, 2010 1:03 PM Subject: Giving Pledge discussion Robert, I’m writing to let you know about an idea we’re calling the “Giving Pledge” that came out of a number of conversations that Melinda and Warren and I have had with a number of people over the past ...

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Close observers of Microsoft saw Jon DeVaan’s exit from Redmond software giant as no surprise.  In late September we reported Terry Myerson forced him out of his position as head of CSOD (Windows Core Operating System Division): Myerson has removed some of Sinofsky’s other lieutenants from power including Grant George, Antoine Leblond and Jon DeVaan. (see: Terry Myerson Flexes His Muscle, Removes Sinofsky’s Lieutenants From Power) Devaan was a mentor to Steven Sinofsky and many other high profile employees at Microsoft.  DeVaan had been with the company since 1984 and became a multi-millionaire after the Microsoft’s IPO in 1986.  Many of the standard engineering practices within Microsoft were created by DeVaan after he was charged with the task by Bill Gates himself.  See our post from yesterday: Veteran Microsoft Engineering Leader Jon DeVaan Leaving The Company After 30 Years Just as an aside, for our readers in Seattle, you may recall Jon’s wife, ...

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A few years back we saw the first Xbox 360 laptop mod and it’s not surprising that we’re seeing the same being done with the Xbox One.  Well known modder James “DarkUncle” Terry has created the first 22″ Xbox One laptop.  He posted a youtube video of the finished product but unfortunately did not go into detail of how he created it. Terry added an audio-out port to his Xbox One laptop, but has otherwise replicated all other functionality in the Xbox One.  The laptop will also have to remain plugged-in since it contains no batteries and makes use of the original XB1 power brick.  Terry has already sold his creation but there was no word on price or if more will be created in future for people to buy. Would you be interested in buying one? ...

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Microsoft co-founder and current owner of the Seattle Seahawks Paul Allen has sold a private island in northwestern Washington state to undisclosed buyers for $8 million, his real estate agent said on Monday.  In the early 90s Allen originally planned on building his dream home on island but plans changed after the purchase of the Seahawks in ’97 which required increased time and responsibilities in Seattle. A description of the island: “Enjoy outstanding building sites with beaches overlooking Rosario Strait, the Olympic Mtns, & Strait of Juan De Fuca,” says a description. “Log-style home for caretakers quarters located near the dock with water, septic, and generator.” The 292-acre (118 hectare) Allan Island – not named for its former owner – had been on the market for nine years and sold on Friday for well below its original asking price of $20 million, according to selling agent Wally Gudgell of Windmere ...

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Last June Microsoft announced that it would be hosting a limited, exclusive developer preview program for Kinect for Windows v2 prior to its general availability in the summer (northern hemisphere) of 2014. And a few weeks ago, Kinect for Windows v2 Developer Preview kits were shipped to thousands of developers in the program from London to Tokyo. Some promising developers are taking advantage of the higher resolution data and the ability to see six people and the new sensor’s ability to track the tips of hands and thumbs.  Developers have also described how easy it’s been to port their v1 apps to the new APIs. The Redmond software giant has created 500 additional developer preview kits for the Kinect for Windows sensor and SDK. The program is open to professional developers, students, researchers, artists, and other creative individuals. The program fee is US$399 (or local equivalent) and offers the following benefits: Direct ...

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The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged a senior portfolio manager at Microsoft Corporation and his friend and business partner with insider trading ahead of company announcements. The SEC alleges that Brian D. Jorgenson, who lives in Lynwood, Wash., obtained confidential information about upcoming company news through his work in Microsoft’s corporate finance and investments division.  Jorgenson tipped Sean T. Stokke of Seattle in advance of the Microsoft announcements, the most recent occurring in October.  After Stokke traded on the inside information that Jorgenson provided, the two equally split the illicit profits in their shared brokerage accounts.  They made joint trading decisions with the goal of generating enough profits to create their own hedge fund. In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington today announced criminal charges against Jorgenson and Stokke. “Abusing access to Microsoft’s confidential information and generating unlawful trading profits is not ...

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In the rare case you’re still running the Windows 8.1 Preview it expires in less than a month.  Windows 8.1 is a free upgrade so need to wait.  Here’s what to do: If you installed the Windows 8.1 Preview or Windows RT 8.1 Preview from the Windows Store, you can update to the final release through the Windows Store by following the instructions available here, or by clicking here to initiate the process. Note that you will have to reinstall all of your applications (desktop or modern) after doing this. If you installed a volume license version of Windows 8.1 Preview for evaluation purposes, we would recommend that you install a fresh version of Windows 8.1 Pro or Windows 8.1 Enterprise for ongoing use. If you have to upgrade an existing machine, you can do so using volume license media. This can be done by manually running SETUP.EXE from the media, or ...

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Microsoft Project Siena (code name) is the beta release of a new technology for business experts, business analysts, consultants and other app imagineers.  Think of it as a Metro App that creates apps. Now, without any programming, you can create powerful apps for the device-first and cloud-connected world, with the potential to transform today’s business processes.  Apps to explore media-rich product catalogs and create ensembles that together serve a customer’s needs Apps used on the spot to resolve customer service bottlenecks and logistics exceptions, with the custom intelligence to help the user make local trade-offs Apps for auditing and inspecting a manufacturing facility through photos, videos and pen and voice notes, all tied to an asset database Siena apps are as easy as editing a document. You place some visuals on a canvas. You hook them up to your data. You customize how your app looks and works. Then, if ...

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