The Midweek Download: July 18th Edition–Microsoft Unveils the Office Customer Preview & “Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn”

In this edition of The Midweek Download, we’ve got stories on Microsoft raising the curtain on the new Office Customer Preview, “Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn”, the launch of Microsoft Streets & Tips 2013 and more.

Microsoft unveils the new Office. On Monday, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer unveiled the customer preview of the new Microsoft Office, available at office.com/preview. The next release features an intuitive design that works beautifully with touch, stylus, mouse or keyboard across new Windows devices, including tablets. The new Office is social and unlocks modern scenarios in reading, note-taking, meetings and communications and will be delivered to subscribers through a cloud service that is always up to date. You can read more about the new Office over on the Microsoft News Center. In the photo below, Steve Ballmer unveils the customer preview of the new Office.

‘Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn’ trailer premieres at Comic-Con. Last week at San Diego Comic-Con International, the world’s largest pop culture convention, 343 Industries and Microsoft unveiled the official trailer for “Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn,” the landmark live-action digital series based on the best-selling Xbox franchise. The series will be initially distributed worldwide by Machinima, debuting on its new channel, Machinima Prime, as well as on Halo Waypoint, on Oct. 5. Read this press release on the Microsoft News Center for more detail.

Announcing the Developer Preview of Windows Azure Active Directory. Windows Azure Active Directory (AD) is a cloud identity management service for application developers, businesses and organizations. Today, Windows Azure AD is already the identity system that powers Office 365, Dynamics CRM Online and Windows Intune. More than 250,000 companies and organizations use Windows Azure AD today to authenticate billions of times a week. With this Developer Preview we begin the process of opening Windows Azure AD to third parties and turning it into a true Identity Management as a Service. Check out this July 12 post on the Windows Azure Team Blog for more detail. Also, don’t miss the latest edition of the Windows Azure Community News Roundup.

Designing the Windows 8 touch keyboard. When we began planning how touch and new types of PCs might work on Windows 8, we recognized the need to provide an effective method for text entry on tablets and other touch screen PCs. Since Windows XP SP1, which had Tablet PC features built in, Windows has included a touchable on-screen keyboard. But those features were designed as extensions to the desktop experience. For Windows 8, we set out to improve on that model and introduce text input support that meets people’s needs, matches our design principles, and works well with the form factors we see today and expect to see in the future. Building Windows 8 has more in this Tuesday blog post.

Creating Metro style apps that stand out from the crowd. When you submit your app into the Store, there will no doubt be other apps in your category that will compete for people’s attention. Being able to crisply showcase the differentiation points in your offerings and staying focused on delivering the core scenarios that you are best at are crucial to a successful Metro style app that will stand out from the crowd. Windows 8 provides a set of design patterns, common controls, and built-in platform functionalities such as contracts that can help you focus on what you are best at. Read this July 11 post on the Windows 8 App Developer Blog for more information. And don’t miss this July 12 post on “testing Metro style apps in Windows 8.”

Get the most from your road trip, on the highway and at the pump. Nobody wants to spend more money than necessary to fill the gas tank, and drivers want to get the most out of each gallon. Making efficient, customized travel plans is now easier than ever with Tuesday’s launch of Microsoft Streets & Trips 2013, the new edition of the popular trip-planning software. Current users of Streets & Trips will find the new 2013 version offers a sleek and clean look in high contrast designed for easier viewing, updated maps of the United States and Canada — including 150,000 new miles of roads since the 2011 version was released — and more than 2.5 million points of interest. Head on over to the Microsoft News Center for the whole story.

Introducing the Office Next Blog. Interested in what future versions of Office will hold? Then head on over to the Office Next blog. We’re really excited to kick off this conversation and connect you with the engineers who are building future releases of Office—where, they’ll discuss the improvements we make, the designs we choose and the data and feedback that inform our decisions. Check it out.

NUIverse on the Samsung SUR40 @ WPC 2012. David Brown is from the Microsoft Technology Centre in the United Kingdom and is the developer of an application called NUIVerse. In the video below, David demonstrates the capabilities of the Samsung SUR40 with Microsoft PixelSense – highlighting the multi user, multi-touch features and the ability for PixelSense to “see” physical objects. Check out this Tuesday blog post on Next at Microsoft for the rest of the story.

IE10 User Agent String Update. The IE10 user agent string was originally introduced in the first platform preview of IE10. In Windows 8 Release Preview we made two additions to aid server-side feature detection. The first addition enables detecting whether a machine has touch-capable hardware via a new Touch token. Using this token you can present a touch-friendly version of your site to users with touch-capable hardware (typically, in the case where your normal site is not touch-friendly). The IEBlog has the full story.

That’s it for this edition of The Midweek Download! Thanks for reading!

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog