From supporting veterans to helping kids learn to code, it was a busy week for Microsoft news, so let’s get started with today’s edition of Weekend Reading.
Microsoft joined Michelle Obama Thursday to celebrate the four-year anniversary of the Joining Forces initiative, a White House project that supports service members, veterans and their families in education, work and wellness.
The company helps veterans through the Microsoft Software & Systems Academy, a 16-week program that teaches tech skills to active-duty service members to help them transition into high-paying IT careers.
“We will continue to do our part and welcome others in the IT industry to join us on this journey, as we renew our commitment to honoring the service of those who sacrificed so much by helping them make that leap from one great career in the military to another — in the exciting world of technology,” wrote Janell Toppen, Microsoft senior program manager for Military Affairs. Toppen joined the first lady for the celebration at Micron Technology in Manassas, Virginia.
In other federal news, Microsoft will host weather, climate, ocean and water data on the Microsoft Azure Government cloud platform as part of a new collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The development is a significant step toward open data.
Microsoft will be an anchor collaborator with NOAA, which wants to make its vast amount of data more accessible. The collaboration will allow government and private groups to use Azure Government to improve and create solutions, from better tracking of infectious diseases to faster weather forecasts.
Data-loving health and fitness buffs (you know who you are) can now track even more stats with new updates to Microsoft Band and Microsoft Health. Microsoft Band now works with two popular bike apps, Strava and MapMyRide, letting cyclists compare ride performances and share bike routes with each other.
Microsoft Health now has an expanded dashboard that compares your daily steps and calories burned with those of other Microsoft Health users. The dashboard can also help you analyze your sleep efficiency and progress in cardiovascular fitness.
Microsoft launched Outlook for Android out of preview Wednesday, making it available in all markets supported by the Google Play Store. The launch came after 17 updates to January’s preview release and is an example of Office’s new development model of turning user feedback into great mobile apps.
This release of Outlook for Android has an improved look and feel, with updated icon sets and simplified fonts. It also uses common Android design principles like the Navigation Drawer for a natural, integrated experience.
Microsoft’s Stories team published “The Ultimate Wingmen,” a terrific, behind-the-scenes profile of four hard-working, get-‘er-done administrative assistants: Genise Dawson (pictured), Scott Roberts, Nancy Malm and Kousy Ramkumar. This is how writer Jennifer Warnick hooks readers into the story:
“They eat chaos for breakfast. They routinely make the impossible possible. They are the steely scaffolding of companies the world over, including Microsoft. They’re the ultimate wingmen. They’re … administrative assistants.”
After you read the story, go thank any admins in your life, and not just because Administrative Professionals Week ends Saturday.
It’s never too early to be a technology creator, which is why Microsoft Imagine – a Microsoft YouthSpark program – launched the new Break into Code! challenge for kids ages 9 to 18. Kids can use free software and tutorials to create a game in about an hour and then customize and remix it. They can submit the game to the Break into Code! contest to compete for a total of $12,000 in cash prizes.
For inspiration, “Smash Champs,” the App of the Week, should do the trick. From the makers of “Subway Surfers,” the new game delivers exciting, cinematic fight scenes as you become a trainer, prepare for combat and lead your Champs to victory.
Finally, this week on our global adventure to find people who #DoMore on the Microsoft Instagram page, we met Emily Moberly. She’s the founder of Traveling Stories, a nonprofit on a quest to outsmart poverty, one book at a time.
Thanks for checking out this edition of Weekend Reading, and we’ll see you next week.
Posted by Vanessa Ho
Microsoft News Center Staff