Kids get latest high-tech Santa tracking, Bing empowers U.S. voters, Microsoft doubles down on philanthropy and accessibility – Weekend Reading: Dec. 18 edition

Dec 18, 2015   |   Jennifer Warnick

This week brought a little something for every reader, whether it was kids tracking Santa in all kinds of new old-fashioned ways from Bing to Cortana or Kinect-enhanced electro pop. Before we delve into what was a deeply important and meaningful week, may we take a moment to discuss politics? Wait! Please don’t leave! I wouldn’t bring it up if it weren’t important.

After months of political back-and-forth it’s hard to believe there’s still nearly a year of campaigning ahead for the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Bing is here to help by giving voters more information about candidates and the voting process through its comprehensive election experience. Now more than ever, technology is the engine that powers many of the processes across the entire political landscape.

“Never before has technology been as important and integrated into U.S. presidential campaigns,” according to Fred Humphries, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for U.S. government affairs. “For example, Microsoft is helping the election process for both major parties at the Iowa caucuses and assisting candidates as they connect with their potential supporters.”

In Nanyuki, Kenya, Microsoft partners with Mawingu Networks to repurpose TV white spaces and bring entire communities online for the first time with reliable, affordable Internet access.
In Nanyuki, Kenya, Microsoft partners with Mawingu Networks to repurpose TV white spaces and bring entire communities online for the first time with reliable, affordable Internet access.

There was much discussion this week of topics important to Microsoft, areas that leaders say will continue to be top-of-mind for the company in 2016.

First, President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith announced that Microsoft was deepening its longstanding commitment to philanthropy by launching a new organization within the company, Microsoft Philanthropies.

“Through Microsoft Philanthropies, the company will contribute in new and more impactful ways to a societal ecosystem that connects the benefits of technology to those who need it most and work harder to drive inclusive growth of the global economy,” Smith wrote. “We will strive to bridge gaps within and across communities through more widespread access to technology that enhances the productivity and quality of life for the people of those communities.”

One of the ways the company plans to bridge gaps is through Microsoft’s Affordable Access Initiative, which invests in new last-mile access technologies, cloud-based services and applications, and business models that can reduce the cost of Internet access and help the four billion people without Internet on the planet to get connected. In Nanyuki, Kenya, this means partnering with Mawingu Networks to repurpose TV white spaces and bring entire communities online for the first time.

In an all-company email to employees Thursday, CEO Satya Nadella reiterated the importance of accessibility, especially in how the company makes products accessible to everyone. “This is a shared goal,” he writes. “Universal design is central to how we realize our mission and will make all our products better. Along with our Senior Leadership Team, I will continue to devote my time and passion to this priority.”

Finally, speaking of presidents, it’s been a tough year for the world, and Kid President Robby Novak has some wise words about how we can all help make things more awesome.

Whew! That’s it for this week. Have a festive and restful weekend and, if camping out in a long line outside a movie theater happens to be in your plans, may the force be with you.

Posted by Jennifer Warnick
Microsoft News Center Staff