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

Yesterday interns from the IE team took to the road to bring free treats to the developers of San Francisco. With help from the great team at Kara’s Cupcakes, the interns drove through the city, handing out free cupcakes and spreading the word that with the free tools available at modern.IE. The idea being developing for IE is now a piece of cake. The interns held discussions with developers about the challenges that developers face in building for the modern web and how modern.IE can help. There was a lot of developer enthusiasm for the new F12 developer tools in IE11. The interns even visited Mozilla and Google. There could be more #CakeOut visits to come from the IE team in the future. Source: Exploring IE ...

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Today Microsoft launched the new Microsoft Developer Network site. There are two primary use modes for the MSDN web site.  The biggest one is search.  For example Binging“CommentRegex” and your top results will be the MSDN pages for the class reference. The second is catching up on the latest happenings in the community, announcements, etc. The second use has been the focus of the revamp. Microsoft has worked to create an improved experience called the Microsoft Developer Network.  It is a major update to the MSDN home page and gives a more modern place to go as a central landing page to find out everything about developing for Microsoft platforms. Targets in the Microsoft Developer Network: Simple: Microsoft designed the site to help developers get started with Microsoft more easily, and get them to the information that they need.  Finding the right information, often spread between different locations, could be challenging.  The ...

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Microsoft recently made a legally required filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)  which lists some interesting information on where Steven Sinofsky can and cannot work until the end of 2013.  You may recall Sinofsky and Microsoft parted ways last November, shortly after the launch of Windows 8.  The seven companies Sinofsky cannot work for currently are Amazon, Apple, EMC, Facebook, Google, Oracle, and VMWare.  The list shows some insight into what companies Microsoft considers its biggest threats. It’s in Sinofsky’s best interest to follow this agreement with Microsoft as he is set to receive a $14 million retirement package from the company.  It will be interesting to watch where Sinofsky ends up working in 2014.  Parts of retirement agreement with Microsoft extend to 2017.  We may have to wait a few more years until learning the full story behind Microsoft’s and Sinofsky’s divorce. Source: SEC via GigaOM ...

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Microsoft has released “Office Mobile for Office 365″ for Android 4.0 and up, excluding tablets. The Android version of the Office Suite is similar to its counterpart on iOS. You will need an Office 365 subscription to edit and view documents. Microsoft currently recommends using the Office Web Apps on android tablets. Source: Google Play store via The Verge ...

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Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was a mathematician, contemporaneous with Newton. It turns out Leibniz was also a philosopher, and there is something called the Leibniz Principle that equates to data conflation. In colloquial terms, the Leibniz Principle says, ‘If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, chances are it’s a duck.’ That principle is the basis of Microsoft’s new Leibniz Platform. Currently search engines are thought of as tools to find text but Ashok Chandra, Microsoft distinguished scientist and general manager of the Interaction and Intent Group at Microsoft Research Silicon Valley, believes people soon will think of search engines as “task engines.” “Search technology began with words,” says Chandra.  “We built a whole search infrastructure around words. But in this new era of search, we are working with entities, because people think in terms of them, such as a hotel, a movie, an event, a ...

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Omar Shahine and Mona Akmal from the SkyDrive team held an AMA on reddit answering user questions.  We’ll be sharing any interesting tidbits. Shahine commented on increasing the 2GB file size limit on Skydrive This is a good one that we’d like to improve on. I can’t comment about specifics here, but it’s something we are looking at. The reason we don’t support 2 GB is that when we designed the system 7 years ago we thought 2 GB was really big. Turns out it’s not. It looks like some significant backend changes will need to be made before they can increase the file size limimt. Shahine also discussed the possibility of adding purchasing option of greater than a 100GB total storage  We are always looking at adding additional storage options. Can’t comment on when this might change. Source: Reddit ...

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Omar Shahine and Mona Akmal from the SkyDrive team held an AMA on reddit answering user questions.  We’ll be sharing any interesting tidbits. A HTML5 music player had been built for Skydrive by interns about two years ago but there were never any plans to actually put it into the final product. Omar Shahine: That is correct. About 2 years ago we had a bunch of interns here and one of the projects they came up with was building an HTML5 music player in SkyDrive. We never actually released this and have no plans to do so at this time, but that’s why you saw the rumor about us doing a music player. Like many groups at Microsoft, we have ongoing conversations with the Xbox music team about their experiences, and as you probably know they just launched a new web Xbox music web experience which we think is pretty awesome ...

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We previously reported on SkyDrive’s update that includes expanded photo management features and support for high DPI screens. There is now also a built-in text editor which supports many types of code files. It has line numbering, syntax highlighting and completion suggestions, even control-space is there. It’s not TFS, but it is a very handy way to work with code files that are available from all your PC’s and to share them with friends, even giving them editing ability. Greg Edmiston from the SkyDrive gives a demo of the new txt editor with Channel 9. For a complete list of new features, see the SkyDrive blog. ...

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Yammer, which was bought by Microsoft a year ago for $1 billion, has released a browser extension which adds a Yammer tab to your browser menu, and lets you quickly share any web page you’re viewing  – just click on the Yammer icon, choose which Group you’d like to post your message into, and share your own comments with a link to the page.  In addition, as you’re browsing the web, the browser extension will notify you if there’s an existing Yammer conversation about the page. If you see a red notification number on the Yammer icon, that means that your coworkers are already having a discussion on Yammer about that page – simply click on the Yammer icon to pull out a separate viewing pane where you can view the conversation, all while remaining on the web page. You can  join in the discussion and post from within this pane. ...

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Microsoft recently took nearly a billion dollar charge and reduced the price of the SurfaceRT to $350.  It appears the price point has helped move some units of the SurfaceRT with Walmart now out of stock of the device.  Walmart expects to have more units on hand within the week. Directions on Microsoft analyst Michael Cherry notes: The $900 million write-down also included parts and accessories, Cherry noted. And many forget that Apple is the master of tying up critical elements of components the company needs in order to build an adequate supply of consumer electronics. “When Microsoft decided to step into the world of building tablets I wondered how this differed from what they already built (mice, keyboards, and Xboxes),” said Cherry. “I assumed that a lot of money went into: a) buying parts; b) buying time in a plant; and c) building sub-components such as milling the metal ...

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Microsoft has launched a pilot project in the rural Limpopo province of South Africa that aims to deliver high-speed and affordable broadband to underserved communities using so-called “white spaces” technology.  The focus of the pilot will be to prove that TV white spaces can be used to meet the South African government’s goals of providing low-cost access for a majority of South Africans by 2020.  The pilot is a joint effort between Microsoft, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the University of Limpopo and local network builder Multisource. It will use TV white spaces and solar-powered base stations to provide low-cost wireless broadband access to five secondary schools in remote parts of the Limpopo province.  The project will use the University of Limpopo as a hub for a white space network deployment that will provide nearby schools in local communities with wireless connectivity. The project will also provide each of ...

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OXM has snagged another exclusive interview, this time with Chad Gibson, Xbox Live’s principle group program manager, who talked about how Microsoft has “super-charged” Achievements on Xbox One. One of the major changes coming with the Xbox One is that achievements will be more dynamic.  Instead of being coded into the game itself (released through DLC add-ons), achievement data is stored in the cloud.  This allows developers to change and add achievements anytime. “We’ve found a pattern where a user will buy a game, they’ll play the game, they’ll max out the Achievements within three to four weeks, and they’re still playing the game six months later,” Gibson observed. “We really wanted to make all our Achievement systems fully embrace cloud power. Which is why in this generation it’s all cloud Achievements.” “So, the general guidance we give to Achievements on how they’re utilised – conceptually, that’s the same, but the big decoupling ...

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The Developer Preview of IE11 on Windows 7 (and Windows Server 2008 R2) is available for download today. It is similar to IE11 on Windows 8 in many ways supporting the same improved performance, faster page load times, new standards support for next generation sites, and completely revised F12 developer tools. This video shows some of the performance, Web programming, and developer tools capabilities in IE11 Developer Preview for Windows 7 Read the full blog post over at the IE Team Blog, where they discuss Fast More Responsive Browsing, Leading JavaScript Performance, Hardware-Accelerated 3D Web Graphics, Professional-Quality Video Experience on the Web, New F12 Developer Tools , The Existing Web , and the future of IE. Download Now: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=39677 Source: IE Blog via Robert McLaws ...

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MSR is continuing its research in creating the perfect photographic, this time focusing on having the perfect hair.  Lvdi Wang has been working for the past year and a half on improving the appearance of hair in digital images. Wang and his colleagues will be demonstrating their latest progress by delivering a paper called Dynamic Hair Manipulation in Images and Videos, co-authored by Zhejiang University’s Menglei Chai, Yanlin Weng, Xiaogang Jin, and Kun Zhou, along with Wang. The paper outlines a new, single-view hair-modeling technique for generating visually and physically plausible 3-D hair models achieved with only modest user interaction. The work creates hair models that visually match an original input image. “We proposed a new method for creating a 3-D hair model from just one single photograph or short video,” Wang explains. “Such a model contains tens of thousands of individual hair strands and allows the user to manipulate hair ...

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Microsoft Research has had a long history of looking at bringing static images to life.  A few months back MSR released an app called BLINK for WP8 and recently Cliplets for Windows 8.  Cliplets reanimates a portion of a scene based on user-specified regions and time intervals. The emphasis is on creative control—creating contrasting juxtapositions of frozen and dynamic content.  Think of the dynamic (animated) images in the newspapers shown in the Harry Potter films.  Or the Nokia Cinemagraph the app, same basic concept.  All these apps output .gif files. With today’s mobile devices, users can find shooting high-definition video as easy as snapping a photograph. That should mean, before long, that preserving and sharing bursts of video might become as commonplace as the current practice of exchanging still images.  The MSR research project aims to captures a spectrum of looping videos with varying levels of dynamism, ranging from a static image to ...

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Microsoft Paint is a quite simple but powerful utility.  Hal Lasko, a former graphic designer, is now 97 & legally blind but uses Microsoft Paint to continue to create art.  Lasko has released a youtube video sharing his story and promoting his artwork, which he sells prints of for $98 each on his website. Source: Hal Lasko via CNet ...

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