Welcome to a jam-packed edition of Weekend Reading, a recap of a very exciting, busy week at Microsoft. Let’s get started!
Windows 10 launched worldwide across 190 countries as a free upgrade or with new PCs and tablets, complete with global fan celebrations and a new #UpgradeYourWorld initiative.
“We are excited to bring Windows 10 and its many innovations to the world,” said Windows and Devices Group Corporate Vice President Yusuf Mehdi. “Windows 10 is the best Windows ever and was built to empower people to do great things. It has new innovations like Cortana, Microsoft Edge and the Xbox app. It’s fast, more secure and compatible. It’s familiar and easy to use. It’s automatically up to date.”
In Kenya, access to reliable, affordable Internet is transforming lives in the rural town of Nanyuki, thanks to Mawingu Networks and Microsoft’s 4Afrika initiative.
“When I think about the true opportunity of technology in years to come, it’s true empowerment that spreads more evenly. And that is the opportunity here,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who visited Nanyuki this week to celebrate the launch of Windows 10 and see how technology is changing lives.
Through solar power and underused broadcast bandwidth called “TV white spaces,” Nanyuki’s Internet access has improved student scores in principal Beatrice Ndorongo’s school. It’s also helped Benson Maina bring information to the masses in the Internet café he runs inside a 20-foot shipping container.
It was a big week for Microsoft employees, who came together for //oneweek, a weeklong event that sets the direction for the coming fiscal year. //oneweek included a three-day Hackathon, which began with the blare of vuvuzelas in Redmond and included more than 12,000 participants worldwide.
The annual celebration of hacking culture involved long days, sleepless nights, fun teams and an eye-catching project called “Ninja Cat on a Unicorn for reals.” It also generated a wide range of empowering technologies, including 165 Tech for Good projects designed to help nonprofits. Those hacks range from a machine translation tool to help Translators Without Borders to an airspace management tool for Uplift Aeronautics to use in disaster areas.
“I’m an enthusiastic person, but this is truly exciting – to see folks come together from across the company and work on something that they’re passionate about, that makes a difference, a real difference, in people’s lives,” said Paige Williams, director of global readiness for Microsoft and a member of the machine translation hack team.
Other empowering hacks that emerged this week included: TalkEasy, an app that helps people with hearing impairment; Neuroversity, a game that helps kids with autism; Kisan 4 You, an app that helps farmers in India, Sous-Chef, an app that helps cooks; and Argonaut, a robot that demonstrates the power of Windows 10 and the cloud. Hackathon also highlighted Hack4Asia, encouraging all employees to develop technologies for Asia, a critical market for innovation.
The Eye Gaze Wheelchair won last year’s Hackathon’s grand prize, with technology that gives former pro-football player Steve Gleason the ability to move his chair with eye movements. Gleason lost the ability to move his limbs to ALS.
This year, progress on the project, developed by the Microsoft Research Enable team, has become a powerful example of how innovation can overcome limitations and an illustration of Microsoft’s mission to help everyone on the planet achieve more.
“It’s showing what the potential is for Microsoft to really, truly empower people with technology,” said Jenny Lay-Flurrie, chair of the disAbility Employee Resource Group.
Also this week, the Microsoft Imagine Cup, a global student technology competition, drew passionate, tech-minded students from 33 countries, including an inspiring team from Nepal that continued their project after an earthquake devastated their country this year. On Thursday, the Russian, Brazilian and Australian teams were announced as the winners. They’ll vie for the championship title Friday.
In Los Angeles, athletes shined in the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles, where a partnership with Microsoft delivered a new games management system to track athletes’ personal bests. Microsoft followed four of their stories and performances.
And finally this week, Microsoft’s Stories Team offered a fascinating look at cartoonist Hugh MacLeod’s illustrated guide to life inside Microsoft. MacLeod recently made it his mission to document a moment of major transition at Microsoft’s Redmond campus, where a new CEO and fresh thinking across the company are quietly transforming the 40-year-old organization.
Thanks for reading and see you next week!
Posted by Vanessa Ho
Microsoft News Center Staff