Garage projects break new ground, Minecraft links with learning and Microsoft shows Pride — Weekend Reading: July 2 edition

| Tracy Ith

It’s a holiday week amid the lazy days of summer, but there’s still been plenty going on around Microsoft. Round out your weekend of barbecues, parades and fireworks with our quick guide to the week’s most inspiring news and tech highlights.

Five creative new projects came out of Microsoft Garage, the heart of the company’s hacking culture that lets engineering teams around the world get cutting-edge technology into people’s hands quickly. InstaNote makes taking notes easy as a single touch, while Maker.js uses code to represent drawings, helping you turn your ideas into reality. Work Item Studio, Receipt Tracker and 3-in-1 Dock are also among the Garage’s latest wave of releases.

Photo by Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures
Photo by Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures

As parents know all too well on summer break, getting kids excited about learning isn’t always as easy as, say, getting them excited about Minecraft. It’s why the popular game has turned into an important resource in the classroom for teaching everything from computer science to civics. Microsoft created a new Minecraft site to let educators share their ideas and find inspiration about what’s possible with Minecraft in education.

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Summer’s the season for outdoor celebrations and June is Pride month, a combo that had Microsoft employees, friends and family marching in Pride parades in cities across the U.S. and around the world. In Seattle, enthusiastic employees marched along a three-mile parade route as they handed out Microsoft goodies touting this year’s theme: “This is me. Do great things.”

Microsoft was the first Fortune 500 company more than two decades ago to provide benefits for same-sex couples and has consistently been ranked as a top place to work for LGBT equality.

Photo by Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures
Photo by Scott Eklund/Red Box Pictures

Skype for Business users can now check out some useful new features in previews released Wednesday. Skype Meeting Broadcast lets you meet with up to 10,000 people around the world, making it easy to host town-hall style meetings and webinars. PSTN Conferencing and Cloud PBX with PSTN Calling are also available as technical previews.

These new features enhance the existing Skype for Business and offer capabilities that will come in handy for businesses and organizations.

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In news befitting of this July 4th weekend, Microsoft is helping kick off a cross-country flag relay to support U.S. veterans. Dozens of teams will move the American flag along the 3,400-mile route, raising awareness and money for the nonprofit Team Red, White and Blue and the veterans it supports.

Chris Cortez, Microsoft vice president of Military Affairs, says he hopes the effort will “inspire the IT industry to join us in our mission to open doors to IT careers for the next greatest generation and to embrace the amazing talent veterans have to offer.”

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In apps this week, we got a sneak peek at some of the new features you’ll be able to preview this month in the Xbox on Windows 10 app, including the My Games menu — an easy way to add and launch Windows games.

The GivingTales app, available in the Windows Phone store, is a fun way keep the kids busy while supporting a good cause; it has the familiar voices of favorite celebrities reading classic Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales, with a portion of the proceeds from each story going to UNICEF.

Find new recipes that fit your dietary preferences, track the nutrition of your meals and more with the Yummly app, now available on Windows Phone. And as you capture moments of summer fun, Eyefi Mobi can help you organize your photographs across all of your devices.

You can also satisfy your need for speed with “CSR Racing,” now on Windows devices, or rock on with more than a dozen AC/DC albums on sale starting at $6.99 on the free Music Deals app.

Fairy talesThis week on the Microsoft Instagram channel, we met Matt Pascoe, an Australian quadruplet who’s headed to Los Angeles for the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games.


And that’s it for this edition of weekend reading. Now that you’re all caught up, there’s plenty of time to grab an icy drink, settle into a lawn chair and ponder why the word “lazy” has such a bad rap.

Posted by Tracy Ith
Microsoft News Center Staff