The Midweek Download: July 11th Edition–Microsoft Acquires Perceptive Pixel, plus Highlights from the Worldwide Partner Conference

In this edition of The Midweek Download, we’ve got stories on Microsoft acquiring Perceptive Pixel Inc., the Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto and Imagine Cup 2012.

Microsoft to acquire Perceptive Pixel Inc. Microsoft and Perceptive Pixel announced on Monday that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Microsoft will acquire PPI, a recognized leader in research, development and production of large-scale, multi-touch display solutions. “The acquisition of PPI allows us to draw on our complementary strengths, and we’re excited to accelerate this market evolution,” said Kurt DelBene, president, Office Division for Microsoft. “PPI’s large touch displays, when combined with hardware from our OEMs, will become powerful Windows 8-based PCs and open new possibilities for productivity and collaboration.” Head on over to the Microsoft News Center for the rest of the story. Below, Perceptive Pixel founder Jeff Han appears onstage at WPC 2012.

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Worldwide Partner Conference. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer opened Microsoft’s annual Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) on Monday by highlighting key product milestones and opportunities for partners contributing to the beginning of a new era for the company. The four-day event celebrates the accomplishments of the company’s more than 640,000 global partners and gives a preview of what will be the most exciting product releases for Microsoft in the coming year. You can read more about WPC over on the Microsoft News Center and in this Tuesday post on The Official Microsoft Blog by Takeshi Numoto, corporate vice president of the Server & Tools Business.

Microsoft announces Imagine Cup 2012 winners. Microsoft announced on Tuesday the winners of the 10th annual Imagine Cup, the world’s premier student technology competition, honoring student technology innovations that address the world’s toughest problems. The winning Software Design project developed by Ukrainian Team quadSquad allows deaf individuals to communicate verbally using custom-designed sensory gloves and a smartphone application to translate sign language gestures into speech. Games focused on the environment from Thailand team TANG Thai and math education from U.S. team Drexel Dragons won the two Game Design competitions. The Microsoft News Center has the whole story. Also, don’t miss this Tuesday blog post focused on the Windows Azure Challenge winners. Below is a photo of the quadSquad demo.

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Helping to save languages by teaching machines to speak. Earlier this week at the Worldwide Partner Conference, Microsoft announced the commercial availability of its Microsoft Translator Hub, which enables people — such as those who speak the Hmong language — businesses, developers and partners to not only translate content, but build their own customized machine translation system. Read this feature story on the Microsoft News Center and this Wednesday blog post on Inside Microsoft Research for more detail.

Five tips to make your Access database super-fast. We’ve all been there. You fire up Access and load your favorite Access app only to see it drag like molasses in winter. Try these five tips to boost the speed of your database.

Nokia Lumia scoops IDEA Design Awards. The IDEA awards program is considered by many as the ‘Oscars’ of design competitions – not least as it’s judged by the experts in their field. Last week, the society announced this years winners and once again, Windows Phone did well – this time for hardware. Our friends at Nokia picked up award for both the Lumia 800 and 900 in the communication tools category. Next at Microsoft Editor Steve Clayton had a full report on Monday. That’s the Lumia 900 below.

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IE 9.0.8 available via Windows Update. The July 2012 Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer is now available via Windows Update. This security update resolves two privately reported vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer. The vulnerabilities could allow remote code execution if a user views a specially crafted Web page using Internet Explorer. You can read more about it over on the IEBlog.

Protecting user files with File History. File History is a backup application that continuously protects your personal files stored in Libraries, Desktop, Favorites, and Contacts folders. It periodically (by default every hour) scans the file system for changes and copies changed files to another location. Every time any of your personal files has changed, its copy will be stored on a dedicated, external storage device selected by you. Over time, File History builds a complete history of changes made to any personal file. It’s a feature introduced in Windows 8 that offers a new way to protect files for consumers. It supersedes the existing Windows Backup and Restore features of Windows 7. More detail is available in this Tuesday post on Building Windows 8.

MongoDB Installer for Windows Azure. Do you need to build a high-availability web application or service? One that can scale out quickly in response to fluctuating demand? Need to do complex queries against schema-free collections of rich objects? If you answer yes to any of those questions, MongoDB on Windows Azure is an approach you’ll want to look at closely. People have been using MongoDB on Windows Azure for some time (for example), but recently the setup, deployment, and development experience has been streamlined by the release of the MongoDB Installer for Windows Azure. It’s now easier than ever to get started with MongoDB on Windows Azure! Read this Monday blog post on Interoperability @ Microsoft for the rest of the story.

That’s it for this edition of The Midweek Download! Be sure to drop by The Official Microsoft Blog again on Friday for another edition of Weekend Reading.

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog