For folks interested in cloud backup solutions for desktops & client systems, this announcement may be of interest.

imageWe are excited to announce the support for backing up data to Azure from Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 machines, using Azure Backup. You can find more details on the supported client operating system versions, SKUs in KB3015072. By downloading this update, you automatically get all the capabilities released in the last few months, including:

This release opens up new scenarios for Azure Backup by enabling customers to back up their on-premises files and folders directly to Azure. Once the initial backup copy is completed, Azure Backup tracks the changes to the backed up files and efficiently transfers only the changed content over HTTPS.

Read the rest of the post here:

Posted by: kurtsh | December 16, 2014

HOWTO: Calibrate your Microsoft Band

imageNeowin’s Brad Sams wrote an article that goes over the distance-per-step calibration process for the Microsoft Band and explains how it can be more accurate than other pedometers and what the Microsoft Band team says about it.

The tl;dr essentially involves using the “GPS” or “Run” function AT LEAST ONCE to gather information about the distance you walk versus the number of steps you’ve taken.  Once you do this, the Band will have some information to accurately measure your steps, distance, etc.

Read the entire article here for more details.

Posted by: kurtsh | December 16, 2014

BETA: Gestures app for Windows Phone

imageWanna try a new app we just released called “Gestures” for Windows Phone?

The idea is that instead of tapping the screen of your phone, through the use of the accelerometer, simply moving the phone in a certain manner can initiate an action.

For example:

With Gestures you can control some of the functionalities of your phone without touching the display. Our first release will enable you to control calls and silence your phone conveniently. You can:

  • Answer a call by picking up your phone and putting it to you ear
  • Mute your mic during a call by placing the phone on a flat surface with the display facing down
  • Put the call on speaker by placing the phone on a flat surface with the display facing up
  • Silence the incoming call ringer by flipping device display down. 


Gestures Beta–Use enhanced interactions on your Lumia phone

Download “Gestures” beta here:

Posted by: kurtsh | December 15, 2014

BETA: Sway Preview now available to everyone

We announced the Microsoft Office Sway Preview a couple months ago to a select audience.

Starting today, we’re expanding Sway Preview. Now anybody can be a part of Preview and start creating Sways immediately by signing in with a Microsoft Account–no more waitlist. If you haven’t tried Sway yet, visit and get started! If you’ve been patiently waiting for an invite, we’re ready to have you get started right away by visiting and signing in.

Office Sway: Reimagine how your ideas come to life.

Read more here:

Posted by: kurtsh | December 15, 2014

WEBCAST: Windows 10 for the Enterprise (On-demand, 60min)


Take an early look at some of the features and functionality of the next version of Windows for business users.

  • One converged Windows platform

  • Designed for the way you live and work

  • Protection against modern security threats

  • Managed for continuous innovation

We’ll also discuss guidance for consideration for your deployment approach. Join Stephen Rose, Sr. Product Marketing Manager for US Windows and Devices and a former IT Pro.

Posted by: kurtsh | December 15, 2014

CONFERENCE: Microsoft Ignite – Chicago, IL, May 4-8, 2015


[Here’s the official invite to Ignite for those of you who didn’t get it]

It’s finally here—one enterprise conference with infinite possibilities. For the first time ever, Microsoft Ignite brings together our best and brightest for a single, remarkable enterprise tech conference.

It will challenge what you know, reveal new opportunities and boost your innovation. You’ll connect with peers from across the globe, get inspired, and then get a game plan for your own business. Feeling fired up? See where technology is headed and meet who’s fueling it—at Microsoft Ignite.

Ignite Your Expertise

  • Stimulate your brainpower and learn best practices from leaders who have seen it all and conquered impossible challenges.
  • Dive deep into technology and conversations that spark new discoveries.
  • Test-drive technology in a hands-on learning environment that engages, excites, and educates.
  • Arm yourself with practical tactics and a strategic roadmap to drive your business ahead by working directly with industry greats.

Ignite Your Business

  • Be among the first to learn about tech innovations and how to maximize them for your business advantage.
  • Get inspired by how your peers are changing their businesses. See how other folks are using our technologies to conquer impossible challenges and find fresh ideas.
  • Partner up with brilliance. There will be hundreds of technology partners ready to tackle your toughest dilemmas—they’re up for the challenge!

Ignite Your Connections

  • Surround yourself with people you respect and follow online. Share knowledge, some laughs, and Twitter handles.
  • Connect with peers from around the world to expand your network, and reconnect with people in your existing communities.
  • Unwind after hours, kick back, and truly enjoy the scene.
  • Meet the minds that make it happen. For the first time under one roof, Microsoft Ignite gives you unprecedented access to hundreds of Microsoft technology and business leaders. Practice your power handshake.

It all happens May 4–8, 2015, in Chicago. Seats are limited, so register today.

Posted by: kurtsh | December 15, 2014

BETA: Skype Translator Preview Release

clip_image002Today, we are delighted to report that we’ve reached another important milestone in our efforts to reinvent productivity.

Skype Translator preview is releasing to external audiences for the first time! Skype Translator is addressing one of the oldest and hardest problems – communicating across languages. A decade ago Skype broke down the distance barriers. Starting today we are breaking down the language barrier.

With Skype Translator we will change the way people communicate across cultures and around the world, one conversation at a time!  The video embedded in our blog post showing the interaction among schoolchildren in Mexico City and Tacoma, Washington gives you a sense of just how transformational this technology can be.

Today, we’re supporting English and Spanish, but our intent is to support more languages in the coming months.

To use Skype Translator:

  • Register at
  • When the preview program is available to you, you will receive an e-mail invitation. Follow the instructions in the email you receive to activate your access and install the app
  • Note: The store app only supports speech translation between English and Spanish.


Announcement post is here:

WOW. In case there was any doubt about Microsoft’s commitment to:

  • Being the market leader in delivering cloud services
  • Supporting cross-platform clients

imageToday I’m pleased to announce that we have acquired HockeyApp, a class leading service for mobile crash analytics and app distribution for developers building apps on iOS, Android and Windows Phone.  We will integrate HockeyApp into the Application Insights service in Visual Studio Online to expand Application Insights support for iOS and Android.

Based in Stuttgart, Germany, HockeyApp offers a range of mobile development services enabling developers to develop, distribute, and beta test great mobile applications.  This includes:

  • Crash reporting.  Fast and precise crash reporting with easy app integration, rich crash analysis and support for connecting directly to existing workflows and bug tracking systems. 
  • Distribution and feedback.  Beta distribution and built-in user feedback system.
  • Cross-platform.  Support for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone provides a consistent developer experience across mobile devices.

Read more at Soma’s blog:

Posted by: kurtsh | December 12, 2014

RELEASE: Office Lens now scans & understands Business Cards

Office Lens is now a Business Card scanner!  Office Lens is a free app for your Windows Phone that captures images through your phone’s camera, and dynamically identifies the object. (whiteboard, projection screen, document, business card)  By banding the edges digitally (see image below), it “straightens out/realigns” the image visually no matter what angle the photo is taken at and can even interpret the text in the image using OCR – in this case, for creating Outlook Contacts out of business cards.

What Office Lens sees vs. What Office Lens captures
(Image taken from
Thomas Maurer because I’m lazy)

From the Office Lens blog:

Now you can scan business cards in its new Business Card mode! Using technology from Microsoft Research, when you take a picture of a business card with Office Lens for Windows Phone and save it to OneNote, it will automatically recognize the card’s contact information and format it nicely into your OneNote notebook. Using OneNote on your phone, tablet, Mac or PC, you can search for text contained in the scanned business card, initiate a call to the number recognized, find their address on a map or open the attached VCF file to save their contact details to Outlook or your phone’s contact list.



Read more about this new improvement on the Office blog:

Posted by: kurtsh | December 11, 2014

RELEASE: MDOP 2014 R2 Now Available

In case you missed this, we released the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) 2014 R2 to the Volume Licensing Service Center.

You’ll find it under Software Assurance. 

For a list of everything that’s updated and all the new improvements made to the suite, see the announcement blog post from the “Windows for Business” blog.


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