Monthly Archives: June 2013

Socl (pronounced “social,”) Offers New Ways to Be Creative


João Castelo was quick to perceive the exciting new possibilities presented by Socl, the unique social network from Microsoft Research that celebrates the creativity of its users.

Committed to the expression of ideas through visually rich posts that are easy to create, collect, comment on, and share, Socl—pronounced “social”—is a free online community, created by Microsoft Research’s FUSE Labs, that bills itself as “where creativity meets.”

Socl logo
Once Castelo, of Golegã, Portugal, learned about Socl, he dived right in, actively commenting on other users’ posts and creating his own to appeal to those with whom he has interacted on the site.

“I always try to create posts that users like,” he says, “because Socl is a place for fun and to get to know new people.”

His interest piqued, though, he wanted more. The creators of Socl listened.

On June 18, FUSE Labs announced a new user interface including new “create experiences” to extend and enhance the features users have found so appealing. In Castelo, they found a grateful recipient.

“I love them,” he enthused. “They add some things that the users asked for and wanted.

“That is one of the features of Socl: It is a social network created by FUSE Labs, but also a social network built by the users.”

That, says Lili Cheng, general manager of FUSE Labs, is no coincidence.

“We’ve learned from our amazing global community that people are looking for new ways to express themselves,” she says. “Today, we’re unveiling a set of ‘create experiences’ around Socl to feed that passion.”

Indeed, the engagement and sharing that Socl makes easy have lured an enthusiastic audience of super-engaged users who want to create things and find it fun to make something beautiful, something that looks complex and deep but doesn’t require a lot of expertise or time.

“We’re following the lead of what people want,” says Colleen Estrada, director of experience design for FUSE Labs. “We’re an agile lab, and we try to respond to our community.”

Beginning June 18, here’s what users of Socl will be able to enjoy.

Imaging Apps for Short, Dynamic Media

People love rich media on the web, and BLINK, a project from Microsoft Research Redmond that also is launching on June 18, has released a pair of apps that blur the borders between video and photography, for use with Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 devices that feed into a new BLINK sharing experience on Socl.

BLINK experience on Socl
The BLINK experience on Socl.

BLINK, an app for Windows Phone 8, debuted in early February, but it has been enhanced. The original app captured a brief burst of images right before you begin taking a photo and continuing slightly after, thereby maximizing the chance that you capture the precise action you were trying to obtain.

Now, the updated BLINK can transform that series of images into a flipbook that transforms the series into a dynamic animation, perfect for capturing a key bit of motion and sharing it via the BLINK experience on Socl.

You’ve probably seen short, animated GIFs online, but chances are you’ve never created one. With BLINK Cliplets, that might be about to change.

With BLINK Cliplets for Windows 8 devices, you can overlay a dynamic, videolike animation atop a static background to create surprising results. It’s like a photograph, but with the object in the foreground in motion.

The BLINK experience on Socl makes sharing your imaging creations easier than ever and enables you to deliver animated results of important or entertaining moments in your life to enable your family and friends to enjoy the experience right along with you.

“Animated GIFs are quite popular,” Estrada says, “especially of animals doing funny things or of people being surprised by something. People go crazy for that stuff. If more people are empowered to capture those funny moments, it will be very cool, and the new BLINK experience is phenomenal for that.”

Meme Creation Made Easy

A meme is a digital creation that often circulates in the form of an image combined with a short bit of text that comments, poignantly or humorously, on the image with which it is combined. We’ve all seen them—think photos of kittens with an arch statement overlaid—and, done right, they have a tendency to go viral.

Picotale experience on Socl
The interface for Socl’s Picotale experience.

The Picotale experience on Socl is a part meme-generator and part game in which the fun of creation is matched by the ease of doing so.

And make no doubt about it, Picotale makes creating your own memes as easy as 1-2-3.

First, you type a few words—a status update, if you will. Then, you click Go within Picotale, and the technology delivers an image to match your words. If you like the results, great—you’re off and sharing. And if you don’t, simply click Go again and again, until you find something that tickles your fancy—and, in all likelihood, that of others.

That’s all you need do. Your cat will thank you—even your grumpy cat —and so will your current friends, as well as the ones you are about to make.

Make What Inspires You Inspire Others

Collage was one of the original Socl “create experiences.” It enables you to type a topic, paste a link, find web images or videos, and drag and drop them to create a stylish collage, created in an instant and ready to share with your online friends.

New Collage experience on Socl
The Collage experience on Socl has been updated and enables users to upload their own images.

Now, with the new user interface on Socl, you can upload personal images stored on your devices and mix and match with content harvested from the web.

Socl is the only place on the web where people can mix elements from the web and from their personal files and create an attractive, compelling collage—in about 30 seconds.

Shared Video Experiences

Video Party is a mechanism to curate shared video experiences on Socl. It makes it simple to create a video playlist that you can keep for yourself or share with others.

Video playlists can be created using content from sites such as Bing, YouTube, and Vimeo. You can find videos that interest you and quickly assemble a collection that can be viewed, discussed, and shared with people you know and people you might like to meet. Such collections can be discussed in real time, if so desired.

A Friendly, Global Community

In addition to the new experiences enabled by the updated Socl site, adherents also enjoy the fact that the site is user-friendly—in the most literal sense.

Click to play video
Click the image to play the video

Not only does Socl serve as a social environment for making things by people who are fascinated by the creative process and eager to share their results, it also minimizes the sort of trolls and naysayers who can rob the web of its sense of excitement and comfort.

That is made possible in a couple of ways. It all starts with community managers, from FUSE Labs, that monitor the feeds for the various “create experiences” and set the tone for the site.

It seems to be a model that Socl users hold dear. The community itself has become self-policing, with those who step over the line of collegiality being admonished by others users eager to retain Socl’s relaxed, upbeat, encouraging style of communication.

In addition, Socl attracts an international audience of like-minded participants. It brings people together from around the world through posts largely visual—and that thereby able to transcend geopolitical and cultural boundaries.

That appeal is enhanced by the use of Bing Translator to enable discussions between people who speak different languages. Machine translation, while getting more accurate every day, is not yet perfect, but through Socl channels, it often is good enough, and the ability to cater to people with similar interests via translation enables a foodie from Buenos Aires to discuss his or her passions with another from Brussels—another reason why users find Socl so inviting.

“It’s a social network that celebrates creativity,” Estrada says, “no matter where you are. It offers a variety of ways to express yourself—and a supportive community that participates in, comments on, and is enthusiastic about what you create and share.”

Social-Networking Experimentation

Microsoft has been working on such social-networking experiments for quite a while now and has developed expertise at delivering creative environments, such as Socl. Such efforts have led to an understanding of the interactions of users and how people follow one another, including data about what people want to create online and the functionalities needed to enable people to pursue the interesting creations they can imagine. This understanding offers the possibility of contributions and enhancements to other Microsoft products and services

Socl was launched in December 2011 as an experimental research project targeted at students as a tool for learning. Since then, it has evolved into a full-fledged online community based on the community’s creative aspirations to experiment with the future of social experiences.

“When we started Socl,” Cheng recalls, “it was a very open-ended social network. We knew that the web and tablets were becoming more visual, but we weren’t sure what that would mean. We watched how people shared what they wanted to create, and now, we’re making it easier for them to tell their own stories.

“I can’t wait to see how members of the Socl community inspire us as they use the new ‘create experiences.’ We think the community will love BLINK and Picotale as much as it does Collage and Video Party—and we look ahead to more and more ‘create experiences.’”

That does not mean, though, that Socl is intended to replace existing social-networking tools. Instead, it tries to act as a complementary platform. People, a recent study has shown, have begun to encounter fatigue with the experience of restricting their social-media participation to a single service. Instead, they now find it entirely normal to cross-post content on different services.

People have learned to connect over shared interests expressed in various ways, and Socl has become an additional player in this social ecosystem, one differentiated by its unique offering of “create experiences” and easy sharing across platforms.

That sharing capability has been built into Socl. The creations Socl enables can be shared via email or across other social platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Tumblr—and the latest wave of “create experiences” is only the start.

The plan is for a continued, organic evolution of the site, to continue to ensure that people can express themselves over shared interests through easy, beautiful posts—and to enable users to experiment and to reimagine the process of researching, learning, and sharing in their everyday lives. In that way, as Socl continues to evolve, it will offer new ways to express yourself and to connect with people worldwide.

“We’re really invested in helping people express themselves,” Cheng says. “Socl is a big canvas where they can show what they create.”

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Wanna work with me Wednesday

Lisa Neblett

Premier Field Engineering (PFE) provides technical leadership for Microsoft’s Premier customers around the world to promote health in their IT environments through onsite, remote and dedicated support services.
Okay, so what does all that really mean? If I’m a PFE, what will I be doing?
Cindy Parrish, one of Microsoft’s Recruiters has been talking to our PFE’s to get their personal stories. For the next several weeks we will answer that question, so that you have a clear picture of the PFE role at Microsoft.
Welcome to Wednesday and an explanation of what it’s like to be a PFE by a current PFE in their own words.

Here’s what Lisa has to say about her job:

Let me introduce myself. My name is Lisa and I am proud to be a Microsoft SQL Server Premier Field Engineer (PFE). Being a PFE is an exciting and rewarding job that allows me to experience all life has to offer. There are so many perks with my position.
My job gives me a lot of satisfaction by helping our customers achieve their goals using SQL Server. In my role I travel weekly to customers to assist them with their SQL Server database environments. I get the opportunity to help my customers with knowledge transfer and various other activities. Every week I get to see how Microsoft’s customers innovate and use our products to help their companies succeed in the marketplace. I enjoy seeing the different ways SQL Server is used. It is very fulfilling to leave the customer knowing I have made a positive improvement to their environment. I may have helped them with learning more about SQL Server or solving a technical issue they were experiencing.
There are so many things I get to do in my role as a PFE. One of my favorite things about being a PFE is the ability to work with my colleagues who also share my passion for technology. The collaboration among my colleagues is great whether it is discussing SQL Server or another Microsoft product like our Surface RT. As a PFE I get the opportunity to work with the latest technology in my field. I look forward to spending time with my colleagues because they give me new ideas or skills so it is great to be around others with the same interests. Another thing I really like about my job is the travel. Over the past couple of years, while I have worked with Microsoft I have been able to see not only a lot of the US but I have been traveling internationally.
My position with Microsoft is very flexible and I get a lot of freedom to achieve my goals. There is also a lot of opportunity for career advancement. The training opportunities are endless. There is a plethora of training materials from videos, books and labs that I can access. Overall choosing Microsoft was the best career decision I have ever made.

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WOW! – DigiGirlz Charlotte Campus – June 2013


Hello all! We wanted to thank all of you for your support of this year’s DigiGirlz High Tech Camp in Charlotte. We were joined by 80 girls here on the Charlotte Campus this week for three days of technology classes, motivational speakers, and good old fashioned fun! Some of our highlights:

• Keynote by Marlena Werder, VP – Global Business Support – Delivery
• Classes in Small Basic programming and creation of apps for the Windows Phone
• Motivational speakers Marlin Page and Nadia Shirin Moffett!founder/cpl0
• Demos of Microsoft Surface by the Charlotte Microsoft Store
• Career exploration sessions highlighting various STEM careers (Medical, Architecture, Computer Science, Forensic Science)

This year marks the 8th year of the DigiGirlz Charlotte Camp, and we have now had over 500 DigiGirlz visit our campus. This amazing program has had a tremendous impact on all of the girls who have attended one of our camps, not only showing them the possibilities available to them in technical fields, but also helping them build the confidence they need to pursue their dreams in any challenging field. The investments of time and funds made by Microsoft, the Charlotte Campus and the Premier and Global Business Support teams make this important diversity program possible – so THANK YOU!

A quote from one of our DigiGirlz (posted to Facebook last night):

“I had such a great time at Microsoft’s DigiGirlz Camp! We had awesome speakers, fun activities, and wonderful learning experiences! I even built a windows phone app! Oh and the Xbox One will be awesome…and so is Windows 8!”

I’d like to offer a special thanks to the hardworking members of our Charlotte Lead team:

• Jen Blanchard – Co-Lead
• Allison Geoghegan
• Courtney Curry
• Heidi Myer
• Jess Cunningham
• Liz Hollern
• Loan Dang
• Marcie Davis
• Rick Hallihan
• Tabitha Barham
• Tammy Anthony

We look forward to many more years of introducing technical careers to the next generation of women!


Kristie Nason
DigiGirlz Charlotte Co-Lead

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Wanna work with me Wednesday

Premier Field Engineering (PFE) provides technical leadership for Microsoft’s Premier customers around the world to promote health in their IT environments through onsite, remote and dedicated support services.
Okay, so what does all that really mean? If I’m a PFE, what will I be doing?
Cindy Parrish, one of Microsoft’s Recruiters has been talking to our PFE’s to get their personal stories. For the next several weeks we will answer that question, so that you have a clear picture of the PFE role at Microsoft.
Welcome to Wednesday and an explanation of what it’s like to be a PFE by a current PFE in their own words.
Here’s what Butch has to say about his job:
So let me get this straight… PFEs used to be RREs?
Back in January of 2003, I was working for the managed services division of a large hardware manufacturer when I came across a job posting for a position at Microsoft called a Rapid Response Engineer. I was sufficiently intrigued and submitted my résumé. I had already been putting bread on the table supporting Microsoft technologies for several years, but working for them was a dream I’d never allowed myself luxury of. How could I be good enough to work with the people that wrote the code?
Much to my surprise and delight, I received a quick response from a recruiter who wanted to talk to me. An e-mail led to a phone call which led to a full interview, and the rest is history. What I found out was Microsoft isn’t looking for people who know the product at a code level already, they’re looking for people who are passionate about the technology they support! If you have a solid base of understanding about a Microsoft technology, consider an interview with us! Hiring on means getting the training and support you need to be successful.
Since coming on board with Premier Field Engineering (what we’re called now ), I’ve gone onsite nearly 500 times with customers in 33 states and 6 countries, but not all of us travel. Some of us are dedicated to one customer at a time and barely travel at all, but that illustrates the beauty of PFE. We don’t care if the problem or project is just down the road or on the other side of the world. The sincere smiles and heartfelt handshakes of customers that appreciate your help is addictive!
I’ve been at Microsoft for 10 years now, all of them in PFE. That alone should tell you something. If you want to wake up each day to a challenge you enjoy, working for a company that values what you have to offer, you’ll find no better opportunity than becoming a PFE at Microsoft. Sending in that résumé literally changed my life. Go ahead! Let yourself dream a little…

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Wanna work with me Wednesday

Katie and Randy in Sonoma

Premier Field Engineering (PFE) provides technical leadership for Microsoft’s Premier customers around the world to promote health in their IT environments through onsite, remote and dedicated support services.
Okay, so what does all that really mean? If I’m a PFE, what will I be doing?
Cindy Parrish, one of Microsoft’s Recruiters has been talking to our PFE’s to get their personal stories. For the next several weeks we will answer that question, so that you have a clear picture of the PFE role at Microsoft.
Welcome to Wednesday and an explanation of what it’s like to be a PFE by a current PFE in their own words.

Here’s what Randy has to say about his job:
My story @ Microsoft starts 15 years ago in phone based product support, when I was fresh out of college and eager to do great things with great people. I was fortunate enough to get an interview, then subsequently work at the Charlotte site supporting Exchange Server for Professional and Premier level customers. I found out very quickly how demanding and rewarding day to day interactions could be working within the services division. Knowledge level needed to be extremely high. The ecosystem, and therefore, in turn, Microsoft was ever evolving and adapting. This presented a lot of new personal challenges. I loved it. There wasn’t one boring day.

It wasn’t long though before I found myself wanting to make a bigger impact for customers, my career, and for Microsoft. This inevitably led me to Premier Field Engineering. Now, after being part of the PFE organization for 9 years, I’ve found that these fundamentals largely have not changed. Every day is still exciting. Every day is a challenge. Every day is a learning experience. Our largest customers have diverse and sometimes challenging political requirements. I think it takes a special type of person to adapt and thrive off of this environment. That is why those of us who do this, wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. To me, a great day is one where I’m presented with a brand new problem/issue/situation that there is no obvious or quick answer to. This gives me a chance to delve in to and challenge myself mentally. In the end, when a solution has been delivered and the customer is very satisfied, that makes me very happy.

Our exceptional management staff, coupled with the non-standard work environment does a great job of allowing individuals to really standout while also giving you the freedom to work the way you want to work. Great ideas are received with open eyes and minds. That’s what allows Microsoft to innovate so readily.

I truly believe this is the greatest company in the world and PFE is one of the greatest organizations within it. Every day PFE is winning customers for Microsoft through great service and great experiences. I’m very lucky to be a part of the journey. If this sounds like you, then you wanna work with me!”

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What are the career opportunities with Microsoft for a self-motivated graduate?

EMEA blog

The Microsoft Academy for College Hires (MACH) Program is designed for University hires like you. This month, we are meeting with Charna – our University Staffing Lead for Western Europe. Find out what are the career opportunities and profile requirements to join Services and be part of Microsoft tomorrow’s leaders!

WE believe that work is a place for exploration, creativity, innovation and professional growth. It’s about being inspired and motivated to achieve extraordinary things which leave a lasting impact. At Microsoft, you learn from the finest in the business. As a full time graduate employee, you experience an inspiring word class program. In MACH, we have customized experiences to help you start strong at Microsoft, build your global network, and drive your career. Our two year program is focused on ensuring that you receive the professional development early to help you accelerate your impact in role and that you have the tools and knowledge to steer your long term career.
With over 3,000 MACH employees in over 60 countries worldwide, you’ll gain a network to a global community of peers, leadership exposure, world class training sand the opportunity to take on challenging work that contributes meaningfully to helping people and business realize their full potential. In addition to core developmental opportunities you stand to gain while you are on the job, our customized trainings provide further learning relevancy to help you build valuable skill sets that will set you apart positively in your profession

Be Yourself: Come as you are, Do what you love. We’ve always been about recognizing the value that people with different life experiences and viewpoints bring to our business. We embrace and celebrate our differences because we see them for what they are; powerful drivers of innovation. Come be part of our talented community joined by a passion for technology, a dedication to our customers, and a shared set of core values. We work hard to make Microsoft a home for everyone and a place of acceptance, where differences are encouraged and respected. Our MACH employee’s come from all over the world and contribute to our global business, we welcome you to view and apply to our open roles:

MACH Graduate opportunities
– MACH Sales: Are you passionate about dealing with our customers to bring the magic of software to consumers and business? Our MACH sales program will provide you with all the sales skills to become advisors and contributors to our business!
– MACH Technical: If you are interested in our Consultant, Engineers, Evangelist or IT service manager roles, you can build upon your technical skills with experts and gain skills in communication to help our customer and partner realize the brilliant of IT.
– MACH MBA: If you have a few years of professional experience and you are currently working towards your full-time MBA degree. We have a variety of roles and a MACH experience for you!
How to apply we welcome you to view and apply to our list of open positions for University graduate opportunities across Europe.

We look for people who:
• Graduated less than 12 months ago
• Have excellent communication and presentation skills
• Excellent academic results,
• A passion for Technology and Services,
• Fluent in English
Our MACH employees corm from all over the world and contribute to our global business, we welcome you to view and apply to our open roles.

Join Microsoft today

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Spotlight on our Engineering, Community & Online Team (ECO)

In this post, Kevin Lamsback, a Staffing Consultant team member with Microsoft would like to provide you with a closer look at one of the exciting CSS (Customer Service & Support) organizations that he has had the privilege of supporting as a Staffing Consultant here at Microsoft. ECO; (as it’s commonly referred to) delivers online support such as Microsoft Answers,, and Knowledge Base articles to small, medium, and enterprise businesses, as well as partners and consumers. Through supportability efforts, ECO also drives improvements back into Microsoft products and services. ECO partners across Microsoft to improve the quality of the support experience, maximize the availability, discoverability and usability of online solution assets, and deliver a personalized and connected support experience, reducing customer effort and creating loyal customers.

Here are a few cool facts about ECO:

• ECO is Microsoft’s global online support team with more than 400 employees in 25 countries supporting 39 languages, with more than 2.4 billion customer interactions annually.
• Community and Online Support: Guides business strategy for CSS’ online support experience, and delivers on CSS’ content and community support initiatives.
• Engineering: Focused on customer online support experience, providing platforms, tools and services for creating, maintaining & delivering self-help solution assets and for enabling end-to-end support workflows.
• Product Quality (PQ): Responsible for understanding customers’ perception of quality of Microsoft’s products/cloud services, and improving it through close partnerships with Product Groups and Services.
• Strategy & Business Development: Focused on developing and evolving the ECO strategy and initiatives across Microsoft and our broad partner ecosystem to drive the customer and partner experience.
• CSS Architecture Team: Responsible for the ongoing assessment of business capabilities and the technical architecture needed to support the strategic goals of CSS.

How We Help Customers:
• We drive Product Quality initiatives by mitigating and eliminating top customer issues.
• We are the world’s most visited online support site with 2.4 billion customer interactions.
• We create workflow efficiencies that help our customers get the answers faster.
• Our customers harness the power and collective knowledge of the Microsoft Answers community in search of online support – more than 1 Billion interactions.
• Our Customer Assistance Portal (CAP) handles 100,000 service requests and 1.4 Million interactions every day.

Our ECO Team is always looking for talented professionals that span the Development, Test & PM spectrum. Our most common profiles here within ECO include; SDE (Software Development Engineer), SDET (Software Development Engineer, Test) & Program Management openings. Feel free to contact Kevin via or visit our for a closer look at what’s currently available.

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Wanna work with me Wednesday


Premier Field Engineering (PFE) provides technical leadership for Microsoft’s Premier customers around the world to promote health in their IT environments through onsite, remote and dedicated support services.
Okay, so what does all that really mean? If I’m a PFE, what will I be doing?
Cindy Parrish, one of Microsoft’s Recruiters has been talking to our PFE’s to get their personal stories. For the next several weeks we will answer that question, so that you have a clear picture of the PFE role at Microsoft.
Welcome to Wednesday and an explanation of what it’s like to be a PFE by a current PFE in their own words.
Here’s what Ryan has to say about his job:
I often get asked what is PFE or what do you do at Microsoft? The simple answer is that we provide proactive and reactive support to customers for specific product. But what does that really mean? Well, it basically means that I help customers solve problems either before or after they happen, though my preference is to do it beforehand. If Microsoft needs to send a technology specialist onsite to diagnose an issue or fix a problem, PFE is who gets sent.
The best times I have in PFE are when I get to help customers with difficult technology decisions and provide them in-depth product training so they are able to face the demanding IT challenges in today’s enterprises. For example, in the past year I have been working with a customer to help guide their development process and UI design for a system they are developing on SharePoint 2013. When this project started it was in 2010 and most of the Silverlight forms had been modified to show an enormous amount of information beyond just the form input, which was taking between 1 and 5 minutes to load. This was obviously a big issue from a user perspective. Through analysis of the physical and logical architecture it was determined there were performance problems due to WAN implementations of the data gathering processes, poor logical architecture and bad coding practices. Through several onsite engagements with the customer a new logical architecture and redesign of the application occurred and has resulted in a well performing and customer friendly user interface.
This is just one of many examples of the exciting work I get to every day with customers. But not only do I get the amazing customer experiences, I also get to work with some of the best engineers on the planet in the technology that I love! In this role I have opportunities to learn from these engineers and contribute to the training that is consumed by both internal and external customers. So… Wanna work with me?

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