Black Friday deals, connecting remote areas of the world and a military family’s story — Weekend Reading: Nov. 25 edition

| Tracy Ith

The long weekend might give you a chance to spend time with family, watch football or dive into the shopping fray. We’ll help you find the best Black Friday deals and catch up on the past week’s most interesting happenings around Microsoft in this early edition of Weekend Reading.

If you’re looking to make quick work of your holiday shopping, Microsoft has heaps of Black Friday deals: There are 1,000 movies, games and apps you can get on Windows 10 devices for just 10 cents each. Select Xbox One console bundles cost just $299. You can also nab a PC for less than $150 and score various great deals on the new Microsoft Lumia 950 and 950 XL Windows 10 phones.

And that’s only the beginning; you’ll probably be able to find something for everyone on your list. Bing and Microsoft Edge can also help you choose the perfect gifts and save money at the same time.

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Microsoft has launched a new fund to help bring affordable Internet access to underserved markets. It’s part of Microsoft’s Affordable Access Initiative that invests in new technologies and business models to help bring Internet access to places like Bohol, a remote island of the Philippines that Microsoft has helped get connected through a pilot project using TV white spaces.

Eligible companies can apply for grants through Jan. 15. Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of global business development at Microsoft, writes that “while the challenges of connectivity are significant, the possibilities have never been more real. This is particularly true when public and private institutions are able to combine their shared resources and learnings toward broader impact.”

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More than 1.3 million men and women in the U.S. currently are on active military duty, and more than half of them have families. When it comes time to leave the military, they often face the challenge of finding a new career that offers the support and stability they seek.

Rick Weil transitioned from being a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps to working at Microsoft as a site reliability engineering program manager for SharePoint Online. He’s also a mentor for Microsoft Software & Systems Academy, a technology training program for service members preparing for civilian life. Weil and his wife, Sarah, describe their personal journey on the Military Affairs blog.

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Researchers from Microsoft and Carnegie Mellon University have come up with a computerized system that uses computer vision, deep learning and language understanding to analyze images and answer questions about them in the same way humans would. This extraordinary system could power all kinds of applications that anticipate human needs — a mounted camera that helps keep bicyclists safe, for example.

Getting a computer to learn language and find answers in an image is much trickier than it sounds. The system builds on the team’s previous work, which involved teaching machines to caption photos by interpreting what’s in them.

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Next week, teachers around the world are invited to join Microsoft’s first-ever Global Skype-a-Thon, a two-day event that celebrates learning without borders and aims to connect participants over 1 million virtual miles.

skype kidsTeachers can use Skype Dec. 3 and 4 to connect their schools with hundreds of guest speakers, virtual field trip partners or other classrooms around the globe.

Microsoft will track the distance of the calls and tally them on a global mile tracker in this fun chance to help kids learn more about other parts of the world.

If you’re lucky enough to find yourself with a little free time this weekend, check out what’s new in games and apps. Plenty of blockbuster games are available on your Surface tablet for free, including “Age of Empires: Castle Siege,” “Candy Crush Soda Saga,” “Asphalt 8: Airborne” and other favorites chosen by the Microsoft Devices team.

This week’s Xbox Deals with Gold include “WWE 2K16,” “Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain” and more; Xbox Live Gold and Silver members can save big on select games and add-ons through Monday.

Or challenge your brain and reflexes with “Stealth Inc 2,” which you can download for $9.99 from the Windows Store. This fast-moving game of clones will have you learning how to navigate lasers, dangerous robots and terrifying bosses in the ultimate hostile work environment.

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You’re now caught up on the latest news around Microsoft. Enjoy the long holiday weekend, and check back here next week for another edition of Weekend Reading.

Posted by Tracy Ith
Microsoft News Center Staff