Expanding access to prenatal care in Africa, connecting cars in Vegas and making Windows 10 and Xbox history – Weekend Reading, Jan. 8 edition

Welcome to the first edition of Weekend Reading in 2016! From Africa to Vegas, Microsoft was busy making all kinds of news this week. Let’s take a look.

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The moment an expectant mother first hears her unborn child’s heartbeat is immense, but many pregnant women in Africa never experience that joy, due to a lack of access to ultrasounds and prenatal care. To help them, a group of African developers have created WinSenga, an affordable, smartphone-based ultrasound that helps doctors and midwives more easily monitor fetal health. Part of a Microsoft Imagine Cup competition project, WinSenga also helps mothers hear the comforting sounds of their baby’s heartbeat.

“It’s not just a great way to track the health of the pregnancy and raise awareness if there are problems. It brings peace of mind for the mothers. Mothers always want to hear their baby’s heartbeat,” said Joshua Okello, co-founder and team leader for Cipher256, the Ugandan-based company that created WinSenga.

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On the other side of the world, Microsoft showcased new, innovative technologies at the annual International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. It demonstrated mobility solutions for connected cars, as part of new partnerships with big automakers and automotive technology companies announced at the show.

Volvo Cars, Nissan, Harman and IAV are now using Microsoft technology to enhance their connected car strategies. They join Toyota, Ford and other companies already working with Microsoft to bring their cars into a mobile-first, cloud-first world.

“In the near future, the car will be connected to the Internet, as well as to other cars, your mobile phone and your home computer,” writes Peggy Johnson, Microsoft executive vice president of Business Development. “The car becomes a companion and an assistant to your digital life. And so our strategy is to be the ultimate platform for all intelligent cars.”

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Browsing the Web with Microsoft Edge and Fierce XL

CES was also the place for a bounty of Windows 10 news. ALCATEL ONETOUCH introduced Fierce XL, its first-ever Windows 10 phone, which has a 5.5-inch HD display, Cortana, Microsoft Edge and other Windows 10 goodies. Samsung revealed the sleek Galaxy TabPro S, a 2-in-1 tablet built for Windows 10. And Dell showed off an expanded portfolio of its Latitude commercial PCs, which feature Windows 10 Pro.

Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Yoga has many modes.

Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Yoga has many modes.

Ahead of CES, Lenovo announced its new ThinkPad X1 Yoga, a 2.8-pound, 0.66-inch-thick powerhouse. HP unveiled the HP EliteBook Folio, a new commercial-grade PC built in collaboration with Microsoft and Skype for Business. And Acer introduced the Liquid Jade Primo, a new Windows 10 phone, and updated its Aspire V Nitro “Black Edition” notebook with the latest Intel RealSense short range camera.

In other Windows 10 news, Microsoft announced that more than 200 million devices are now running Windows 10. Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft corporate vice president of Windows and Devices Marketing, said the operating system is having the fastest growth trajectory of any version of Windows. “We continue to be excited – and humbled – by the incredible response to Windows 10,” Mehdi wrote.

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Xbox also had good news to share, with record numbers of Xbox gaming over the holidays. More gamers used Xbox Live on Dec. 28 than on any other day in Xbox history, and Christmas week saw an increase in Xbox One and Xbox 360 gaming hours over the same time period in 2014. Xbox One also announced two new bundles to help usher in the New Year: the Xbox One “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege” Bundle and the Xbox One 500GB Name Your Game Bundle.

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Bing was hard at work again with its predictions, this time calling for New England to repeat its win as pro football champions and “Spotlight” to win the Golden Globe for best dramatic movie. If you follow football and entertainment awards, Bing Predicts is your guide.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella visits the Microsoft Social Innovation Hub at the National Council for Women in Cairo.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella visits the Microsoft Social Innovation Hub at the National Council for Women in Cairo.

Finally, on the Microsoft Instagram channel this week, we followed Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella as he visited the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Egypt to learn how students, teachers and entrepreneurs are harnessing the power of technology to make an impact in the Middle East.

The trip was the latest in Nadella’s journeys around the world, from Kenya to Chile, where he’s met people using technology to make a difference. Nadella shared some of their stories and wrote that he’s looking forward to “continuing to learn and see first-hand how digital technology is empowering people to make things and make things happen.”

Thanks for reading and see you next time!

Vanessa Ho
Microsoft News Center Staff