Helping military vets build new careers, applauding a hands-on young researcher and ‘connecting’ cows for healthier herds – Weekend Reading: August 21 edition

| Vanessa Ho

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It may be August and prime vacation time, but it was a busy week of interesting news at Microsoft. Let’s get started.

The #GiveThem20 challenge raises awareness of the need to help returning military veterans transition to fulfilling civilian careers. Chris Cortez, vice president of Microsoft Military Affairs, and other Microsoft employees recently rose to the challenge, which included 20 push-ups. It was part of an ongoing commitment to helping servicemen and women.

“Microsoft is committed to training and hiring veterans and helping them secure high-paying technology careers, and Microsoft is proud to employ many former servicemen and women from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and U.S. Coast Guard,” wrote Cortez, a retired Marine Corps major general.


Jamie Shotton at Microsoft Research Cambridge was named one of MIT Technology Review’s Innovators under 35, a distinction that honors exceptionally talented young innovators whose work the editors believe has the greatest potential to transform the world. Previous winners include Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Shotton was among the researchers who played a key role in bringing Kinect to market. A differentiating feature for Xbox, the system has improved health care and made meetings more productive. Shotton has continued to build on the work with a more recent project called Handpose, which aims to track hand motions to millimeter precision.

“Creating something that really empowers people to do new things – that really excites me,” Shotton said.


In Germany, Microsoft is playing a big role in a modern breakthrough for a traditional industry: dairy farming. We looked at a family farm using an Internet of Things solution based on Windows Embedded software and Microsoft Azure cloud technology to monitor cows for illnesses and milk production.

“When I get up in the morning and put on my boots, I don’t go to the stables first. I check my PC for alerts about whether any cows are sick, and I’m in the know right away,” said farmer Steffan Hake of the dairy’s “connected-cow” technology.


Microsoft Band and TaylorMade announced the official launch of myRoundPro’s integration with Microsoft Band, continuing a partnership providing the latest and greatest golfing technology.

“Microsoft Band is the first wearable that, with TaylorMade and myRoundPro, tracks your golf game and overall fitness in one integrated device,” wrote Brian Bilodeau, Microsoft Health general manager. Data on your game includes mapped shot locations, fairways you’ve hit, putts per round and more.

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The August update for the Xbox app on Windows 10 delivered high-res game streaming, with a new setting for gamers who have the bandwidth to stream 1080p/60fps Xbox One games to Windows 10 PCs. The higher-quality setting will be perfect for when the “Mad Max” game for Xbox One arrives Sept. 1. It’s now available for pre-order. The “Mad Max: Fury Road” movie is also available in the Movies & TV Store, and “Mad Max” fans have a chance to receive a bonus hood ornament.


In other news, Microsoft released its third Technical Preview of Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016, which is chock full of features aimed at helping businesses accelerate app innovation. Chief among them is the first public preview of Windows Server Containers, which will allow millions of Windows developers to experience the benefits of containers for the first time using the language of their choice. You can take a deeper dive on the Server & Cloud blog and Scott Guthrie’s blog.

Azure Government also reached key milestones this week, in the form of four new industry certifications. The certifications are from FedRAMP Moderate Provisional Authority to Operate (P-ATO); DISA Level 2 Provisional Authorization (PA); HIPAA Business Associate Agreement (BAA); and support for federal tax workloads under IRS Publication 1075.

“With these announcements, Azure holds the largest number of industry, government and international certifications of any commercial cloud provider,” wrote Tom Keane, Microsoft Azure partner director of program management.


Finally, the App of the Week was “Castle Secrets: Hidden Objects,” a game that stars you as the hero who must fulfill a prophecy to save a kingdom from evil. It’s a lot of responsibility – and fun. You can install it for $2.99 on your PC and $1.99 on your Windows Phone.

Thanks for reading and see you next time!

Posted by Vanessa Ho
Microsoft News Center Staff

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