Weekend Reading: Nov. 8th Edition – Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 now broadly available

In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories about Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013, how you can now use Office 365 Web Apps to collaborate with colleagues in real time and Microsoft’s huge commitment to green energy by using wind power.

At its annual Convergence event in Barcelona this week, Microsoft announced the broad availability of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013. Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3 was also introduced. Microsoft also announced a set of 18 new predefined and configurable process templates that include sports management, healthcare, government and nonprofits, as well as some specialized areas such as prison offender management. In addition, Microsoft confirmed the availability of new touch-optimized experiences on Windows Phones, iPhones and Android phones that give customers powerful functionality and analytics on the go, without a separate license fee. We told you how Pandora Jewelry, ranked among the three largest jewelers in the world, polishes their own customer experiences by using Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Office Web Apps made collaborating on documents in Word, PowerPoint and Excel a whole lot more collegial this week. From now on, Office Web Apps (screenshot below) – the best free alternative to Office apps – will let you work in real-time from any device that connects to the Internet. And if you can’t get online, you can continue to work in a document. When you get back online, your changes will be synced back up for the others working on your document to see. Also, in the latest “Garage Series” show, Jeremy Chapman and SharePoint senior product manager Mark Kashman help IT pros manage Office 365 user access and data flow to mobile devices (ranging from Android and iOS to Windows and Windows Phones). And it is time to get on board. That’s what the BNSF Railway Co., one of the oldest and largest freight railroad networks in North America, is doing. The company has chosen Microsoft Office 365 so that more than 40,000 workers can share ideas and information via computers, kiosks and personal devices.

Office Web collegial

Microsoft announced it has committed to a 20-year power purchase agreement with RES Americas to buy 100 percent of the electricity generated from its soon-to-be-built Keechi Wind Farm Project in Texas. Microsoft’s latest investment in renewable energy is just one of several innovative projects and approaches the company has pursued in the past few years. Rob Bernard, Microsoft’s chief environmental strategist, sees Keechi as a “moment in our journey” that includes an increased focus and acceleration in the direction the sustainable energy strategy the company has pursued over the last several years. It is a journey whose beginnings are intricately detailed in 88 Acres.

RES Americas Central Plains Wind Farm

The Microsoft Software and Systems Academy, an intense, 16-week course for U.S. active-duty service members who are transitioning out of the military, was announced by Brad Smith, Microsoft executive vice president and general counsel on Monday. The course “builds on the unique work experience and training that service members have, and helps them obtain the certification required for information technology careers such as a developer, applications engineer and IT project manager,” Smith wrote. “The pilot program is already up and running” at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Wash., and will be expanded “to bases in California and Texas next month, with other states to follow.” Staff Sgt. Adam Citterbart (shown below), a member of the elite U.S. Green Berets, is among those signed up for the academy. “To get into this career, you couldn’t ask for a better offer,” Citterbart said. “The best thing about this program is that it’s 16 weeks training for a new job rather than searching for one, as service members usually need to do.”

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Whether you like to spend time revving your engines or seeking vengeance in Rome, we shared some exciting first looks at two games for Xbox One that do just that. The first and second episodes of “The Fall,” from “Ryse: Son of Rome” were released, as was a trailer, “Ryse: Fight for Rome,” that details the game’s combat mechanics, combo system and the ever-changing Colosseum. Meanwhile, mechanics and race car lovers alike got to see the latest and final edition of the “Forza Motorsport 5” Showroom. The standout was definitely the Lotus e21 (shown below).

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For the first time ever, fans will be able to pilot the car driven by Formula 1 drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean. Also, two crown jewel racetracks of the international racing scene were announced for “Forza Motorsport 5” – the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Silverstone Circuit. “Forza Motorsport 5” and “Ryse: Son of Rome” will each launch Nov. 22, the same day as Xbox One.

With our busy lives, Windows Phone is making it easier to get caught up on some favorite TV shows. Episodes of “The Simpsons,” “Sleepy Hollow,” “Bones” and other popular Fox Network shows now can be watched using the new, free FOX NOW Windows Phone 8 app. AT&T U-Verse, Mediacom and Verizon FiOS customers can access full episodes and the complete content library, while everyone else can watch a selection of free episodes, show clips, behind-the-scenes content and more. (And, if you need to do the same with ABC shows such as “Scandal,” “Modern Family” and “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D,” check out the WATCH ABC for Windows app. WATCH ABC for Windows lets you enjoy those shows wherever and whenever you’re connected to the Internet.) There was also news that you can now play the role of a bad guy in “Star Wars: Tiny Death Star” – new to the Windows and Windows Phone stores (screenshot below). You get to go to the Dark Side, where you join forces with Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader to build a new moon-size Death Star.

StarWars TinyDeathStar

On the other hand, if you feel like pulling the world back from the brink of catastrophe, we highlighted another new game, “Avengers Initiative” for Windows and Windows Phone 8. And, to make sure independent game developers have the tools they need, it was announced that the Xbox One add-on for Unity, when it’s released in 2014, will be available at no cost to developers in the ID@Xbox program. “The Unity add-on for Xbox One supports every element of Xbox One, from Kinect to SmartGlass to the impulse triggers of the new controller,” wrote Chris Charla, director of ID@Xbox, Microsoft’s independent developer self-publishing program for Xbox One.

Getting work done is getting easier for Windows developers, too. We announced that from now on, app developers will find things streamlined with a new, unified registration experience for both Windows Store and Windows Phone developers. Also, Marmalade just released the final version of Marmalade 7, their cross-platform C++ SDK that includes support for Windows Phone 8. Hundreds of Marmalade developers have already taken advantage of the opportunity to develop for the Windows Phone Store, and to participate in a special Marmalade offer, with rewards for porting your app to the Windows Phone Store. As part of the offer, developers who bring their app or game to Windows Phone 8 can get a free Windows Developer Center registration token, a free Windows Phone 8 device and a free three-month Marmalade Indie License. The offer ends Dec. 31.

This week on the Microsoft Facebook page, we taught you how to become a Giving Hero. And that seems to be more than a good idea as we get into a season of giving to others.

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Thanks for stopping by The Official Microsoft Blog. Have a wonderful weekend!

Posted by Suzanne Choney
Microsoft News Center Staff