‘Halo 5: Guardians’ launches, new Surface devices hit the shelves and Microsoft volunteers share expertise with nonprofits – Weekend Reading, Oct. 30 edition

 |   Thomas Kohnstamm

Years of hard work came to fruition this week as much-anticipated Microsoft Surface devices and the newest installment of Xbox’s “Halo” game franchise stepped out onto the world stage – and into the hands of consumers. And that was just the tip of the iceberg. Check out this week’s big news from across the company.

On Monday, Microsoft’s Surface Book and Surface Pro 4, two new devices first unveiled earlier this month, went on sale in the U.S. and Canada. The launch was especially exciting at the new two-story Microsoft flagship store on New York City’s 5th Avenue – Microsoft’s first-ever flagship store.

Surface Book features a display that delivers 6 million pixels, a keyboard that draws on more than 25 years of design experience and a hinge unlike any other laptop. Surface Pro 4 has already amassed the fastest adoption rate by businesses of any Surface device, and it’s the thinnest and most powerful version yet.

“In designing these products, our team really does consider every detail so that your experience of using them is truly great,” wrote Panos Panay, corporate vice president for Microsoft Devices.

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When “Halo 5: Guardians” launched on Tuesday, the latest addition to Microsoft’s blockbuster sci-fi franchise was met with celebration around the world.

Leading up to the big day, fans tuned in to YouTube Gaming to take part in “Halo 5: Live,” a one-of-a-kind broadcast celebration spanning multiple continents with exclusive gameplay reveals, celebrity appearances, international events and more.

“’Halo 5: Guardians’ is the culmination of more than three years of hard work, passion and dedication, and we could not be more excited to celebrate with our fans,” said Bonnie Ross, corporate vice president and head of Microsoft’s 343 Industries.

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When not launching game-changing global tech products, many Microsoft employees like to get involved in their local communities.

Microsoft’s Tech Talent for Good program brings Microsoft employees’ skills to nonprofits that need technology expertise and don’t have the means of obtaining it.

Through the program employees have given invaluable tech architecture guidance and support to such organizations as the Seattle-based Mockingbird Society, which works to improve foster care and end youth homelessness.

Brian Lawrence, Mockingbird’s director of development and administration, said, “This is work that there’s no way I could have done on my own… It’s going to make us a much more efficient operation.”

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We know you love your devices. (Don’t we all…) And sports. So if you want to stay in the know about your favorite athletes and teams on your devices, check out the USA TODAY Sports app. Packed with curated content, such as a quick read on the news, trending topic streams and live notifications, this “App of the Week” is a standout.

And because it comes with all the benefits of Windows 10, the layout easily adapts across your different devices and incorporates Live Tiles and Cortana voice commands.

In other news, Microsoft was recognized as a 2015 Lighthouse Activity winner by the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) Momentum for Change initiative. The award was given for the company’s work in establishing an internal carbon fee. The fee is an innovative way to not only take accountability and reduce Microsoft’s carbon footprint but also serve as a mechanism to deliver a range of benefits around the world.

This week on the Microsoft Instagram channel, we introduced the technology behind our partnership with Ariela Suster and her company, SEQUENCE. Ariela’s bracelets feature NFC technology, which allow wearers to tap their accessory against their smartphone and learn more about the artisans who bring their products to life.

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Thanks for reading. See you next week.

Thomas Kohnstamm
Microsoft News Center Staff