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MS Maps New York Complaints With Bing?

March 12, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft has decided to map the opinions on New Yorkers and pin their gripes to their locations.

The Redmond firm’s researchers have developed Herehere, a complaint cataloguer, and launched it on the hardboiled streets of New York, New York. The firm reckoned that over time it will build up a view of the community.

Microsoft said that “hyperlocal engagement” would “encourage civic response”. We think that it might put people off certain areas and funnel others to other locations. Microsoft has provided an image to suggest how this manifests itself. We learn that somewhere has “no asbestos issues” somewhere else does not feel safe, and another location has bad traffic.

“Herehere NYC introduces daily neighbourhood engagement with a light touch,” said Kati London, head of the Herehere project.

“It takes neighborhood-specific public data, and it enables the neighbourhoods to communicate how they’re doing-expressed through text and cartoonlike icons.

“People can receive the information via a daily email digest, neighborhood-specific Twitter feeds, or status updates on an online map. We want to understand how it changes or impacts the way people relate to their community when they can interact with data in this way.

“Think of it as a meta-status update for the day – a simplification of issues in your neighbourhood compressed into a text that you might get from a friend,” added London.

There are 42 New York City locations covered, and the firm thinks that it will boil down the mood of the city into a digestible format with a friendly, occasionally ratlike, face. The data is culled from the 311 phone number in New York City, which is the state’s contact number for non-emergency communications.

“The idea is that we are inundated with all kinds of data in our lives, and it’s overwhelming. Characterisation helps bring immediacy and a human scale to information,” said London.

“When the Lower East Side says it’s totally cool with a few vermin complaints, we’re giving a human voice to the neighborhood which, hopefully, will stimulate conversations about issues.”

Courtesy-TheInq

Microsoft, Bing Renew Partnership

November 6, 2013 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft touts its Bing search engine as a social one, and to keep it that way it’s renewing a partnership with Twitter to keep tweets appearing in Bing search results, according to both companies.

Tweets have been featured prominently in Bing for a few years, as part of Microsoft’s effort to incorporate plenty of information from sites like Twitter, Facebook and Klout. With a smaller market share, the search engine is far from beating Google but hopes to attract more users by weaving in more social data.

“Whether it’s a politician, celebrity, thought leader or friend, our renewed partnership with Twitter ensures that you have near real-time access to what people are tweeting tailored to what you’re searching for,” Microsoft said in a brief blog post Friday. It didn’t say how long the partnership has been renewed for.

Google is the market leader in search with nearly 67 percent share in the U.S., according to a September comScore ranking. Microsoft was a distant second with roughly 18 percent share, while Yahoo, which uses Bing on the back end, came in third at about 11 percent.

Microsoft gave Bing a makeover of sorts in September. Along with a new look, it created a new results view that merges social posts with factual information about people, places and things.

Competition between Twitter and rivals like Microsoft, Google and Facebook is likely to heat up once the social network goes public on the New York Stock Exchange. But, “we also depend in part on Internet search engines, such as Google, Bing and Yahoo, to drive traffic to our website,” Twitter said in its IPO documents.

 

 

Bing Search Engine Gets A New Look, Adds Features

September 19, 2013 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft outlined on Monday a set of new and re-designed features for Bing that the company hopes will position the search engine as a “next generation” option for users.

For now, Google sits safely at the top, reigning as it has for many years as the most popular search engine. In August, people in the U.S. ran 66.9 percent of their search queries on Google, while Microsoft ranked a distant second with a 17.9 percent share, according to comScore. Yahoo, which uses Bing as its back-end engine, came in third with 11.4 percent.

But a new logo, a remade interface and improved search features signal “the beginning of a new, more modern era for Bing,” wrote Lawrence Ripsher, Bing’s user experiences general manager, in the blog post.

Greg Sterling, an analyst with Opus Research, said the changes to Bing are unlikely to boost significantly its market share. “But over time Bing could see gains as it continues to build on some of these enhancements,” he said via email.

One of the main changes is the merging of two features — Snapshot and Sidebar — which were introduced last year. Snapshot provides factual, structured information about people, places and things, while Sidebar mines users’ social media accounts to deliver relevant information posted by their contacts on sites like Twitter and Facebook.

“In our new design, we’ve combined these two sources of knowledge to provide people with all the supporting context they’ll need for any given query,” Ripsher wrote.

An entirely new feature is Page Zero, which attempts to resolve a query while the user is still typing it, by displaying links, information and actions on the fly before the first page of results appears.

“We think the time people will save using Page Zero instead of navigating a search results page will be significant,” he wrote.

 

Also new is Pole Position, a set of links and answers displayed prominently and in a larger format at the top of the results page that appear when Bing is highly confident it understands a query’s intent.

 

Bing Including More Facebook In Search Engine

May 13, 2013 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Bing is adding some new social features to its search engine, by allowing users to comment and “like” their Facebook friends’ posts directly on the site.

The new tools represent yet another expansion of the Microsoft search site to make it more interactive and useful as the company seeks to distinguish itself from Google search.

In March Bing expanded its center column to incorporate more social information from Facebook, Twitter and Klout into how it displays search results involving people. In January its right-hand Social Sidebar was scaled out to include more content from users’ Facebook friends such as status updates, shared links and comments.

Previously, users could see that content, but could not interact with it without leaving the Bing site. But with the latest expansion, they can.

“Now you can see what your friends might know about what you’re searching for and engage with them directly without leaving the search page,” Bing said last Friday in a blog post.

As an example, if a person is searching for tickets to a Beyonce concert, and a friend posted on Facebook that she has an extra ticket, the person could comment directly on the post on the Bing site to let the friend know that he would like to join her for the concert, Bing said.

The person has to be signed into Facebook for the feature to work. The tool honors the user’s account settings and won’t share any information without the person’s approval, Bing said.

There does not appear to be any restriction on how old the Facebook posts can be.

The feature’s focus is on surfacing the most relevant information for the searcher, but on average the technology looks at roughly two years’ worth of Facebook data for each person, a Microsoft spokesperson said.

For instance, searching for the just-released film “The Great Gatsby” displayed Facebook posts from as far back as 2011, some of which did not even refer to the recent Hollywood adaptation of the book.

The flow of information between Bing and Facebook goes both ways. In January Facebook announced the beta launch of Graph Search, a social search tool designed to let users discover a wider range of information across the social network. When there are holes in the Graph Search results, information from Bing will be weaved in, Facebook said.

Bing originally rolled out its right-hand Social Sidebar last year, and since then “we’ve been exploring ways to make it more useful,” the site said last Friday.

 

 

Microsoft Updates Azure

April 18, 2013 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft has rolled out a major update to its Azure cloud computing service and said that it will match Amazon on price.

Last year Microsoft announced it would preview a host of changes to its Azure cloud computing service including new virtual machine configurations, a virtual private network and a new Azure software development kit. Now the firm has taken those features out of preview and made them generally available in what it is promoting as the largest single update to Windows Azure to date.

Since Microsoft announced most of the features in its “hybrid cloud” last June, the firm said the only changes from the preview release to today’s public release are higher memory capacity and higher performance compute nodes. However the firm touted its Windows Azure Virtual Network as a way for customers to view cloud based services as if those were located on their premises.

Microsoft couldn’t rely on features alone to take the fight to Amazon and its Web Services division. Amazon’s cloud service is the biggest rival to Microsoft Azure and has a reputation for cutting prices aggressively. Now Microsoft has said it will do the same in a bid “to take the price discussion off the table”.

Michael Newberry, Windows Azure lead at Microsoft UK said that companies are in a process of moving applications that presently reside on servers located in the office onto the cloud. He said, “It is important that we get them through the process, price shouldn’t be a barrier for the customer to choose the best cloud provider.

“At the end of the day it should be about different technical facilities, what is the right environment for a particular workload, a particular application scenario. And that’s why we wanted to take the price discussion off the table and say ‘look, we know prices are changing and this is a market that is developing, but lets make this about the best environment, the best architecture, the best cloud environment for your particular customer.”

Newberry said that Microsoft’s Windows Azure service will appeal to those customers who want to make use of existing applications rather than develop ones specifically for cloud deployment. He said, “With customers who have existing infrastructure, existing applications, existing datacenters, that’s not something they want to throwaway. They still want to take advantage of cloud technologies, either in terms of private cloud, or using the public cloud as a spiking mechanism – an overflow if you will – for their existing on premise environment.”

Microsoft has also started to offer support for Linux on its Azure cloud service. Newberry said customers should have no problem running open source software or Linux on its services. However the firm does see its Windows Azure cloud service being particularly enticing for those firms that already run their network infrastructure services using Microsoft’s software, such as Active Directory, SQL Server and Sharepoint.

With Microsoft saying it will match Amazon’s pricing, the cloud provider industry might start to see a focus on performance rather than simply competing on low prices to attract customers.

Courtesy-TheInq

Will Wolfram-Alpha Read Your Mind?

March 13, 2013 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Wolfram Alpha will soon be able to read your mind, its creator Stephen Wolfram said at the South By Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin today.

Speaking at the US technology conference on Monday, Wolfram predicted that his analytics engine will soon work pre-emptively, meaning it will be able to predict what its users are looking for.

“Wolfram Alpha will be able to predict what users are looking for,” Wolfram said. “Imagine that combined with augmented reality.”

Speaking during a talk on the future of computation, Stephen Wolfram – the creator of Wolfram Alpha and the mastermind behind Apple’s Siri personal assistant – also showed off the engine’s new ability to analyze images.

Wolfram said, “We’re now able to bring in uploaded material, and use our algorithm to analyse it. For example, we can take a picture, ask Wolfram Alpha and it will try and tell us things about it.

“We can compute all sorts of things about this picture – and ask Wolfram Alpha to do a specific computation if need be.”

That’s not the only new feature of Wolfram Alpha, as it can also now analyse data from uploaded spreadsheet documents.

“We can also do things like uploading a spreadsheet and asking Wolfram [Alpha] to analyse specific data from it,” Wolfram said.

He added, “This is an exciting time for me, because a whole lot of things I’ve been working on for 30 years have begun converging in a nice way.”

This upload feature will be available as part of Wolfram Alpha Pro, a paid-for feature where Wolfram hopes the analytical engine will make most of its money. Wolfram Alpha Pro costs $4.99 per month, or $2.99 if you’re a student.

Wolfram also showed off Wolfram Alpha’s ability to analyse data from Facebook, a feature that was announced last August.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Facebook Acquires Microsoft Ad Technology Platform

March 1, 2013 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc said on Thursday it had agreed to purchase advertising technology from Microsoft Corp that measures the effectiveness of ads on its website, which should aid in its fight with Google Inc for online advertising revenue.

Under the long-rumored transaction, Facebook will purchase the Atlas Advertiser Suite, an ad management and measurement platform that Microsoft took on with its $6.3 billion acquisition of digital ad agency aQuantive in 2007. Facebook did not say how much it paid for the technology.

Unable to make it work for its own purposes, Microsoft wrote off $6.2 billion of the aQuantive deal’s value last year.

Facebook has long been dogged by doubts about the effectiveness of its ads and was embarrassed just days before its initial public offering in May when General Motors Co declared it was pulling the plug on all paid advertising on Facebook’s network.

Since then, Facebook has introduced a number of tools and partnerships to prove to marketers that advertising on its social network delivers enough bang for the buck.

Brian Boland, Facebook’s director of monetization product marketing, said the purchase of Atlas was not a step toward creating a much wider ad network beyond the Facebook site, but analysts believe that is Facebook’s ultimate goal.

Currently Google leads the $15 billion U.S. market for online display ads with 15.4 percent share, according to researcher eMarketer, followed by Facebook with 14.4 percent.

Bing Adds More Facebook Content To Search Results

January 21, 2013 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Users of Microsoft’s Bing search engine can now view a wider range of Facebook content from their friends as part of an effort by Microsoft to make the site more social.

When a person runs a query in Bing, the results include general content from the web as well as related information from social networks including Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Google+.

For instance, if a user is logged into Bing through Facebook when performing the search, Bing’s Social Sidebar is populated with related information from their Facebook friends. Bing launched the sidebar feature last summer.

Previously, the results included only the Facebook friends’ “Likes,” photos and profile information, but Microsoft has now expanded that to include status updates, shared links and comments.

The extended data amounts to a five-fold increase in Facebook friends’ content that is searchable in the sidebar, Microsoft said wrote in a blog post.

The idea is to give people more useful and personalized results. “This is a much richer set of data that not only helps show what your friends may know, but what knowledge they possess that can aid in your search,” a Microsoft spokesperson said. The Social Sidebar is currently available only to users in the U.S.

A person planning a trip to New York, for instance, can find not just information about the city, but also information from Facebook friends who have lived or visited there, Microsoft said.

The information in the sidebar from other social networks works slightly differently — it’s not linked to the person’s friends, but to other sources deemed to be experts on the topic. That functionality is not affected by today’s changes.

The new Bing features are not connected to the Graph Search announcement, according to Microsoft. But the company will “continue to power the web search functionality on Facebook,” Microsoft said.

 

NORAD Dumps Google, Chooses Bing To Track Santa

December 20, 2012 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

As has become the custom, on Christmas Eve, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) will be tracking Santa’s progress as he and his reindeer make their way across the globe delivering presents to children. With NORAD’s help, children and their parents can watch Santa’s travels and see how close he’s gets to their house.

After working with Google for the past five years, NORAD is teaming up with rival Microsoft.

On Microsoft’s blog, the company noted that NORAD, which has been tracking Santa for the past 62 years, will be using Microsoft Windows Azure cloudcomputing platform and Bing Maps this year.

Kids also will be able to track Kris Kringle’s progress on a Windows Phone and Windows 8 apps. A NORAD tracks Santa app also is available for Apple’s iPhone and iPad and Android devices.

NORAD and Google mutually decided to part ways on this project, according to Lt. Cmdr. Bill Lewis, a NORAD spokesman.

Google helped us increase the program globally, and were very grateful for all the support we get from all our partners, Lewis told Computerworld. Were very happy with them& Its not a technical issue. Weve been together for four years. It was a mutually agreed upon split.”

Google did not respond to a request for comment.

 

Should Microsoft Merge Indie Games With XBL Arcade?

September 7, 2012 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Robert Boyd, one half of Penny Arcade’s On The Rain-Slick Precipice Of Darkness 3 developer Zeboyd Games, has told Edge that Microsoft should merge Xbox Live’s Arcade and Indie Games categories.

“I’d like to see [XBLIG] kind of merge into XBLA,” Boyd commented. “Keep Indie Games free to everyone but if you have a really good game, you could submit it to Microsoft for it to be upgraded to an XBLA title. Right now, becoming an XBLA developer is fairly difficult for a small team, so reducing the barrier of entry to XBLA could only help Microsoft, I think.”

Boyd finds that Xbox Live Indie Games has serious discoverability issues because of the low barrier to entry. Some developers could use a route to Xbox Live Arcade, a route previously provided by Microsoft’s Dream Build Play indie development contest.

“Early on, several winnders and nominees got on, but after Dust won, I can’t think of anything else. Most of the winners ended up just being released on XBLIG,” Boyd said.

“Far more indie games are released on Steam than XBLA, and yet Steam is tremendously successful. I think opening up XBLA a bit – but not completely – would only help.”

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Courtesy-GI.biz

Castle Crashers Headed To Steam

August 21, 2012 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

The Xbox Live Arcade favorite Castle Crashers that was later released on PSN for the PlayStation 3 will now also be appearing on Windows. The Windows version will be sold on Steam and will run on any DirectX 9 system, including Windows XP/Vista/7/8.

The Windows version will offer Integrated Voice Chat, Steam Achievements, Gamepad Support, Steam Cloud Support, as well as pretty much everything else that you have seen in the previous Castle Crashers releases on the console platforms.

While developer Behemoth has not confirmed the exact release date yet, it will be coming soon. The Castle Crashers title was very popular on the console system, so the release on Windows isn’t surprising. No word yet if Behemoth is planning a Mac release, as well, at some point, but right now it isn’t something that they apparently have on their radar.

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Courtesy-Fud

 

Microsoft Begins Publishing Windows Phone Apps Again

August 20, 2012 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Microsoft has resumed publishing applications on Marketplace, after resolving a problem related to the certificates used to sign apps in the store, according to a post on its Windows Phone developers’ blog.

The fix Microsoft has implemented will take a day or two to fully deploy and newly-published apps to begin appearing in Marketplace again, according to the post, which didn’t elaborate on what had caused the problem with the certificates.

On Tuesday, Microsoft stopped publishing apps to address the problem, which led to users experiencing problems with application downloads. Affected applications included the New York Times app, WhatsApp, and Translator from Bing — all of which recently issued new updates, Microsoft said at the time.

Developers whose apps were in the process of being published don’t have to take any action. The apps will continue through the certification and publishing workflow as normal, according to the blog post.

The problem with Marketplace comes as Microsoft has been working to make life easier for developers. Just over a week ago, the company launched Windows Phone Dev Center, a new portal for smartphone developers that promises better performance and ease of use, along with more markets and support for PayPal.

 

Microsoft Enhances Xbox Live Security Features

July 20, 2012 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Microsoft has taken a number steps to increase security of its Xbox Live service, including better communication with users and better verification for potentially fraudulent activity.

“The internet has transformed the way we purchase goods and services and added layers of convenience to our lives. Yet, disappointingly, online fraud increasingly victimises millions of unsuspecting consumers each year,” said Xbox Live GM Alex Garden on his official blog.

“That is why our resolve at Microsoft to battle fraud and our commitment to account security is stronger than ever. I hope you’ll take a few moments to protect your account today.”

He added that he had received a mass of emails from the service’s users, and this had “reinforced our belief that Xbox Live is not simply an online service but a community built upon the trust and investment of its members.”

The changes are listed in full below, and seem to be an attempt to combat some of the issues highlighted by sites like Hacked On Xbox.

  • We’ve taken legal action to pull down online posts of gamertags, usernames and passwords gathered from malware or phishing schemes to help protect our members.
  • Our Xbox LIVE Spring update included many behind the scenes improvements that help us build on security enhancements for the near future.
  • We’re sending unique codes to the security phone numbers and secondary email addresses provided by members to verify authorization for Xbox.com purchases or account change attempts not stemming from a member’s trusted device.
  • We’re working to reduce market incentives for criminal activity. Engaging in identity theft, trading in stolen accounts and committing credit card fraud are illegal and violate our Terms of Use. Those involved in these activities risk criminal prosecution, account and console bans. That goes for both sellers and buyers of known stolen accounts and content.

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Courtesy-GI.biz

 

Microsoft Goes SOCL

May 22, 2012 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft has introduced its social network Socl, just days after Facebook floated its initial public offering on the Nasdaq stock exchange.

Microsoft, an investor in Facebook, didn’t wait long to open its own social network called Socl. The firm quietly introduced Socl with almost no fan-fare, perhaps trying to avoid building up expectations only for Socl to fall flat like the Zune and Kin.

Microsoft’s Socl doesn’t seem to compete with Facebook, indeed it allows users to sign in using Facebook accounts. Rather the firm seems to be using it to crowd-source content from around the web.

It is not surprising to see Microsoft shying away from competing against Facebook, the two firms have been working together for a number of years. Instead Socl seems to go up against Google+ with its tie-up of user appraised content, though it is difficult to see how Microsoft’s Socl will be any more successful than Google+.

Wandering around Microsoft’s Socl, it hard to see how the social network offers anything more than what has been available from its competitors for years. That said, Microsoft has done a good job of designing Socl using a tile=based interface and design touches from its Live services.

Microsoft has yet to integrate Socl with its Bing search engine, though it is not a stretch to see Microsoft going down that route in the future. Given the firm’s stable of operating systems and applications, it is also highly likely that it will offer a number of ways to post on its social network.

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Courtesy-TheInq

Google Tweaks It’s U.S. Search Engine

May 17, 2012 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Google is changing the way it handles searches in the United States to give users quick access to answers without leaving the page, the company said.

The new search process is based on what Google calls the “knowledge graph” — meaning that it tries to pinpoint faster the context surrounding its users’ keyword searches.

“Over the years, as search has improved, people expect more,” said Amit Singhal, vice president of engineering at Google and the head of search, in an interview. “We see this as the next big improvement in search relevance.”

The redesign, which for now affects only U.S.-based English language users, is gradually being rolled starting Wednesday on desktop, mobile and tablet platforms. Google plans to eventually expand the new search features outside the U.S., Singhal said, without specifying when.

Many of the results will carry more graphical elements, compared to standard lists of search results, such as maps and pictures of related results, often in separate pop-ups. The idea is to let users easily discover what related material interests them and click through to it, Singhal said.

The offering is the latest example of search companies moving away from offering a list of text-based links as search results. Last week, Microsoft’s Bing unveiled a redesign that includes a “snapshot” column. Last year, Yahoo rolled out its “search direct box.”

Google is by far the leader in search, with 66 percent of the U.S. market, according to comScore. But it sees other sites such as Facebook as competition, as users there can poll their friends and acquaintances for information on various topics without leaving the Facebook ecosystem.