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

In a post on the Surface blog, Bryson Gordon, a director on the Surface team wrote: Like a lot of Microsoft-ies, I am the resident tech support contact for my extended family. This means that when my in-laws’ old laptop needed some TLC, I took it down to the team at the Microsoft Store, University Village to get it taken care. Outside of getting it running like new, a few of the associates starting talking with pride about one of their own, Jonathan Velasquez, and what he could do with the Surface Music Kit. I left my email address and later that night, after the doors closed, (you’ll notice in the video it is 9:18pm), Jonathan sent me this video. I’ll let it speak for itself. The Surface Music Kit may launch at the Build conference in early April.  Currently Microsoft is having a tough time keeping the Surface, Surface ...

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After the NSA scandal broke this summer, revealing that the U.S. spy agency was eavesdropping wholesale on the most popular services on the web, Microsoft turned to five or six of its top engineers for help.  One of them was Mark Russinovich.  It was only natural that Russinovich ended up on the small team of engineers who would decide how Microsoft should respond to the documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. “It gave Microsoft a wake-up call, especially the revelation of tapping inter-data-center connections,” Russinovich says, referring to an October Washington Post story that exposed an NSA sketch, or “slide,” showing that the agency is grabbing data from lines that run between the massive computer centers operated by the likes of Google and Yahoo. “The tapping of public wires going into a data center? That slide was shocking to me, because it’s just so flagrant.” And, yes, he ...

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Microsoft has added IE11 for Windows 7 and IE11 on Windows 8.1 to the suite of virtual machines now available on modern.IE for testing Internet Explorer across platforms and versions. The Redmond software giant also updated all of the virtual machines based on feedback from the community. Among the changes the company made to the refreshed images are: Windows update set to off by default to avoid the VMs with older versions of IE updating themselves automatically to the newest version for that operating system Resealed the images to have the longest expiration of the evaluation period allowed Brought answers to frequently asked questions right inside Windows on the desktop background Instituted a VM build version system and have the home page set to visit modern.IE to check for updates to the VMs For reference, IE6-11 testing virtual machines are available on the following platforms and virtualization technologies: 1. Windows a. ...

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Microsoft has decided to pull a firmware patched, for the Surface Pro 2, pushed through Windows Update on December 10, 2013.  Microsoft started receiving complaints shortly thereafter when numerous users began experiencing an error code (80070490) when attempting to install the update. Microsoft explained a few days after that this update was triggering a false error message upon installation. “To ensure the best experience for our customers during the holiday season, we have taken steps to remove the update for Surface Pro 2 that was previously published through Windows Update on December 10th, 2013. We are working to release an alternative update package after the holidays,” Microsoft stated. A number of users also experienced reduced battery life after installing the update. “Some people may by experiencing a false error message, 80070490. The firmware update should be installing correctly; however, if you received this error message, we recommend that you go to Device ...

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The Surface Pro 64GB is now just $599 – a $200 savings.  You can purchase online or at a physical Microsoft Store.  The Surface Pro 128GB is $679 a $220 savings.  Microsoft is also offering touch covers for $50 with the purchase of a Surface. The Surface bundle is being offered for $269, a $75 savings, which includes Office 365 Home Premium, Complete for Surface Pro 2-year warranty, Touch Cover (Cyan), and Surface Pro Screen Protector. Note, this is the Surface Pro 1, not the Surface Pro 2.  Are you considering buying it at this price point or will you hold out for the rumored Surface Mini? Let us know in the comments below… Purchase: Surface Pro ...

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Microsoft has updated CRM for tablets apps are now live in both the Windows Store (app version 1.0.0.98) and the Apple App Store (app version 1.0.51). They provide additional language support for Chinese and Japanese, and the new iPad app also provides support for iOS 7. Note that while the new iPad app supports iOS 7, CRM is not currently supported in the iOS 7 version of the Safari browser, so if you plan to use CRM in both the app and the browser (or just the browser), your iPad should be configured with iOS 6. These updated apps require the installation of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Update Rollup 1 to the CRM server. If your organization is using CRM Online, this update has already been applied. The CRM web application is supported in the following browsers and operating systems for tablets: Windows 8 RT with Internet Explorer 10 Windows ...

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Now available in the Windows Store, “Riptide GP2” takes racing up a notch with futuristic and upgradeable hydro-jets and riders, a new stunt system with dozens of new tricks and 50 races in career mode.  The game, a sequel to “Riptide GP,” also gives you a chance to compete head-to-head against friends in VR challenge mode, and can keep your races synced to the cloud.  Riptide GP2 includes dynamic water racing, upgradeable hydro jets and riders, improved graphics, an all-new career mode, and a whole new stunt system.  It also features rocket-powered hydro jets racing around futuristic tracks across a dynamic and interactive water surface.  The game is developed by Vector Unit, developers of racing games Riptide GP and Hydro Thunder Hurricane. Features DEEP CAREER MODE • Compete in over 50 Race, Hot Lap, Elimination, and Freestyle events. UPGRADE YOUR WATERCRAFT • Collect 10 powerful new hydro jets and upgrade their ...

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The Bing Team wrote a nice blog post titled “Entities, Apps, and Maps.”  In the last paragraph the team talks about what they see in the future of Bing Maps: Moving into the future, entity knowledge will greatly enhance our mapping experiences. While our Bing Maps Preview app already takes advantage of Satori to deliver smart features like Local Scout, we have a vision for maps where everything is annotated with useful information: what buildings are called, what stores are in them, how to get in touch with those stores and when they are open. Much of this exists today in our current experiences, but further integrating entity knowledge into maps will transform digital maps from the visual representation they are today to a deep model of what the world is like. Another element of how maps and entities will converge is putting map-construction technology in the hands of our ...

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Microsoft is running a new promotion called the ‘Skype Collaboration Project’ that is allowing Skype users to make free group calls, free group screen sharing, no advertising and access to live customer support, for free. All of these features are typically reserved for premium account holders but you can get them free for 12 months.  After you enter your email address a code will be sent to your inbox. After the code is redeemed you see a message that shows a credit of $107.88. I’ll update this post as we learn more about the motive behind this offer. Redeem: Skype Offer   ...

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Microsoft has granted Mary-Jo Foley exclusive access to CEO Steve Ballmer.  She recently published a discussion with Ballmer about the Surface in which he admitted: “Nobody ever buys Windows. They buy Windows PCs.”  A pretty profound statement in it of itself. “One of the things tech companies really do terribly is build new capability,” Ballmer said.  Unfortunately, when the industry changes, if you haven’t built any new capability, you can become less relevant because the thing you were good at becomes less relevant and you didn’t built capability in a new area.” “We’ve had to do it a couple of times, in fact, from platforms to apps, from now software to services, from OS (operating system) royalties, to OS royalties and devices,” he said. Ballmer called Xbox  ”sort of a signature about building new capability in hardware and devices.”  Microsoft staffed up its supply-chain-team after getting into the Xbox business.  Some of ...

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Satya “Nutella” Nadella may be Microsoft’s next CEO.  Regardless he remains a powerful person within the Redmond software giant as Microsoft Cloud & Enterprise chief and has reported directly to Ballmer over the last 3 years.  Nadella talked with Mary-Jo Foley about some lessons he has learned from Steve Ballmer. Ballmer “is perhaps one of the most grounded people I run across in this place around what our current realities are,” Nadella Nadella recalled a performance review he had with Ballmer two or three years ago. “I went to him and sort of said, ‘Hey, you know, how am I doing?” The first thing he said is,’Dude, you’re going to know it, I’m going to know it, so don’t keep asking me. You know, we’re all going to know what is happening because it’s going to be in the air.’ “The second thing I asked him, ‘Hey, what about all ...

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The Bing team took a look back at Bing’s growth in 2013: The Best Video Selection on the Web Because we know that video on the web is more than YouTube, Bing Video showcases leading web video services such as Vevo, Hulu, Daily Motion, CBS, MSN, MTV, Vimeo, and more (and yes, YouTube also!) Looks like you agree with us, as your activity on Bing Video more than doubled in 2013 year over year. Now That’s A Lot of Data If you were to line up pixels from all of the aerial imagery that make up Bing Maps, you could make four round trips to Venus with pixels to spare. Drinking from the Social Fire Hose For every search, we believe there’s someone out there who can help. So, whether you want to see what your colleagues Facebooked for lunch, or you need to know what Lady Gaga just tweeted, ...

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The White House is tapping the private sector for its next point man to fix the troubled Obamacare website. The administration is set to announce that Kurt DelBene, an executive at Microsoft, will succeed Jeff Zients in leading the overhaul of the embattled HealthCare.gov, according to four sources with knowledge of the decision. DelBene was most recently the president of the Microsoft Office Division and has been with the company since 1992. He is also the husband of freshman Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.).  It was announced he would retire from the company after Ballmer’s re-org. “I’ve long said that we need more people to enter public service who are focused on delivering results,” Suzan DelBene said in a statement. “Kurt has demonstrated throughout his career that he is about results, and his decision to join the administration will be extremely valuable to their efforts to improve the website.” Led by ...

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Edit: Looks like my sources were correct: Microsoft Confirms: CEO Won’t Be Named Until Early 2014 I’ve been inspired by Dina Bass lately.  So take with post with a grain of salt, maybe mountains of salt.  Typically when original rumors are posted on msnews we like to have two other sources of independent confirmation.  The following information in this post is from multiple people, but only a “single source,” so no independent confirmation.  Individuals sending tips often have an agenda, so just keep that in mind. I received an anonymous tip early last week that Microsoft is considering making its CEO announcement late Q2 / early Q3: “[...] the board is now considering announcing the new CEO later than originally planned, most likely at the end of Q2 or maybe early Q3 [...]“ The information did not really make sense to me initially, Q3 would be way too late, giving Ballmer nearly ...

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Developing original series for Microsoft has taken a little longer than veteran TV executive Nancy Tellem had hoped, but her first slate of shows will launch on the Xbox videogame consoles early next year. “We’re hoping we will be able to put something up in the first quarter, at minimum second quarter,” said Tellem, president of entertainment and digital for Microsoft, at Variety’s Dealmakers Breakfast at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles. “I’m incredibly ambitious and impatient,” said Tellem, who took the job to produce original content for the Xbox platform in 2012. Because of that, the time it’s taken to develop the first slate of series, including a high-profile project based around “Halo,” with Steven Spielberg producing, has been “slower,” but “reflecting on what we’ve done and what lies ahead, it’s been pretty good.” Tellem was attracted to joining Microsoft after spending years at CBS and the CW, ...

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We reported earlier that Amazon had some more Xbox One consoles, they are now sold out again.  Best Buy’s website is now showing that they have some Xbox One consoles in stock, guaranteeing delivery (with free shipping) by December 24th.  Grab them before they disappear. Best Buy: Xbox One In unrelated news, the PS4 is available in an additional 16 markets bringing the total to 48 markets, while the Xbox One will only remain available in the 13 launch countries until next year.  The PlayStation European blog says that the PS4 can now be bought by residents in the Czech Republic, Greece, Slovakia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, South Africa, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela. via Neowin ...

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