The Midweek Download: April 20th Edition – Office 365 public beta released and Microsoft’s quest for greener data centers

This week’s Midweek Download covers the release of the Office 365 public beta, Microsoft’s efforts toward creating a greener data center and a few other news tidbits.

Office 365 hits public beta. Microsoft announced Sunday that the public beta of Microsoft Office 365, the company’s next-generation cloud productivity service for businesses of all sizes, is now available. Office 365 was recently introduced in limited beta, bringing together Microsoft Office, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online and Lync Online in an always-up-to-date cloud service. The public beta allows millions of people in more countries and more languages — a total of 38 markets and 17 languages in all — to try Office 365 for the first time. For more detail on Office 365, check out this post on the Microsoft Office Blog and this post on the Windows Live Blog.

The quest for a greener data center. In this feature story on the Microsoft News Center, Christian Belady, general manager of Microsoft’s Datacenter Advanced Development, talks about his quest for a greener data center. “My goal in life is to make the datacenter disappear,” he said. He’s only half joking. Belady and Microsoft are working to shrink the huge amount of infrastructure currently needed to run a datacenter. Read the story to find out more.

Roundtable on Windows XP available on demand. With only 1,085 days remaining till Windows XP reaches end of support, many people are asking whether XP is still “good enough.” Microsoft recently held a virtual deep-dive discussion on that very question. Just in case you missed it, that roundtable is now available on demand on the Springboard Series Blog.

The brain inside of Kinect. On the Next at Microsoft Blog this week, blog editor Steve Clayton has an audio clip of an interview IEEE Spectrum’s Steven Cherry did with Alex Kipman, general manager of incubation for the Xbox. The full text of the interview – entitled “Why the Kinect Connected with Game Players,” is available on the IEEE Spectrum site.

A gaming keyboard with a really cool name. Also on the Next at Microsoft Blog this week, editor Steve Clayton profiles the Sidewinder X4 keyboard, which was designed by Microsoft’s Applied Sciences Group. The keyboard is notable for its “anti-ghosting” features. Ghosting is a “technical issue in which a keyboard fails to correctly register all the keys when several are pressed at once. This can be a real problem in gaming, where key combinations are essential to executing simultaneous moves and ghosting can make the difference between a high score and an ignominious avatar death,” Clayton writes.

And in Internet Explorer news this week. Despite just releasing IE9 and unveiling a few under-the-hood components of IE10, the folks down at the IEBlog somehow managed to find time to crank out a few blog posts, including this April 13th post on a security update for Internet Explorer, an April 14th post on the platform preview and CSS features in IE10 and an April 19th post on hang resistance in IE9. Don’t miss them.

Windows Azure SDK refresh now available. The Windows Azure team announced the immediate availability of the Windows Azure SDK 1.4 refresh. Available for download here, this refresh enables Web developers to increase their development productivity by simplifying the iterative development process of Web-based hosted services. Developers – check it out!

Thanks for reading the Midweek Download! See you here next Wednesday.

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog