Category: Microsoft

Seattle field trip: Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure powered by TechStars

It’s always nice to take a look at what’s happening in other startup scenes. Yesterday, I was up north at the—deep breath—Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure, powered by TechStars Demo Day on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, WA. All told, 10 new companies came out of the Accelerator, the first based on Azure. Read More

Unfortunately, Microsoft layoffs will affect the Portland startup and open source communities, too

Microsoft has been a huge supporter of the local tech scene here in Portland. And a great deal of that, no doubt, was thanks to Jason Mauer’s presence here.

[HTML1]When news that Don Dodge had been laid off from Microsoft started percolating yesterday, my mind immediately jumped to a rather sad conclusion. If they let Don go, I thought, then what did that mean for our own community presence here in Portland, Jason Mauer?

Unfortunately, I learned that my assumptions were correct. Jason—the developer evangelist who has served as the face of Microsoft for much of the Portland tech community—had been part of the layoff as well.

And while ill news of the Microsoft is always guaranteed to inspire a bit of grave dancing and schadenfreude, I think there are any number of reasons to take this news as a very real blow to our community, as well. Read More

In the strange bedfellows department, Jive hooks up with Microsoft SharePoint

Sometimes, opposites attract. This would be one of those times.

News coming out of Jive Software this morning is like some freakish beauty and the beast episode of The Dating Game. Portland-based Jive—known for its Social Business Software that opens the power of social features to business communications—has begun a tempestuous relationship with Microsoft SharePoint—the classically unwieldy “Intranet” solution.

Introducing Jive Social Business Software SharePoint Connector. Read More

Keeping Portland weird: Microsoft signs on as premier sponsor of WordCamp Portland

Portland loves the WordPress. And we love the open source. And that’s why we love WordCamp Portland, arguably the largest gathering of WordPress enthusiasts and bloggers—who use the open source content management system and blogging platform—in the state of Oregon.

And when people think of open source content management systems, what’s the first name that jumps to mind? It probably wasn’t Microsoft. In fact, that probably wasn’t even in the top 10. Still, I’m happy to report that they have signed on as the premier sponsor for WordCamp Portland. Read More

Mugasha selected for SXSW Accelerator

MugashaMugasha—the DJ-set splitting startup founded during Portland Startup Weekend—has been selected to participate in the Microsoft BizSpark Accelerator at SXSW. They are the only Northwest company to make the cut.

SXSW is a big stage for the young company. With the event’s mix of music and technology, it’s sure to give Mugasha access to some noted movers and shakers who will no doubt appreciate the service and its capabilities.

Of course, this isn’t the first time Mugasha has stepped into the limelight. (Akshay Dodeja of Mugasha took the chance to speak with Robert Scoble, last year, and I got the chance to profile them on ReadWriteWeb.) But SXSW marks Mugasha’s first chance to demo their private beta to a large group of people outside the immediate Portland tech scene:

Microsoft BizSpark Accelerator is the newest addition to the SXSW Interactive schedule of activities. Scheduled Monday, March 16 at the Downtown Austin Hilton, the event spotlights some of the web’s most exciting new innovations, enabling the entrepreneurial visionaries behind these new products to demo their creations in front of a live audience of industry professionals and technology trend-setters.

It’s great to see Mugasha—and by association, Portland—getting this sort of recognition.

Even if you’re not going to SXSW, you should give Mugasha a spin—especially if you like electronica. What’s Mugasha do? Basically, it parses DJ set podcasts—usually one long multi-hour track with no song info—into separate song tracks, allowing user to play the songs they want to play and actually know which tunes they’re playing.

For more information or to get an invite to the private beta, visit Mugasha.

Portland OpenID looking healthy: Vidoop authentication for Microsoft HealthVault

VidoopPortland-based Vidoop—the OpenID provider that allows users to login more securely without using a password—has just announced that their authentication will be used by Microsoft HealthVault, the online health information storage and Personal Health Record product from our neighbors to the north.

“Our objective is to give our customers choice and make their Web experience easier, while helping them safeguard their privacy,” said George Scriban, senior product manager, Health Solutions Group, Microsoft. “We’re happy to be working with Vidoop to give HealthVault users the option of using their log-in and authentication solutions with their HealthVault account.”

Not only is this good news for Vidoop, it’s good news for OpenID. What’s more (and near and dear to our hearts), it’s good for Portland, as Vidoop joins Portland’s other OpenID juggernaut, JanRain, as an option for HealthVault logins.

Microsoft HealthVault allows individuals to store health information from many sources in one location, so that it’s always organized and available. HealthVault is working with doctors, hospitals, employers, pharmacies, insurance providers and manufacturers of health devices—blood pressure monitors, heart rate monitors and more—to make it easy for consumers to add information electronically to HealthVault records.

Vidoop’s ImageShield—which allows users to login based on information contained in a series of images—will ensure that individuals have secure access to these records without the issues generally associated with password-based security.

“The weakest point in Internet security is the front line – where users log-in – but with strong authentication the front line can become the strongest point,” said Scott Kveton, Vidoop’s vice president of Engineering.

For more on Microsoft’s consumer health solution, visit Microsoft HealthVault. For details on OpenID and ImageShield, visit Vidoop.

JanRain OpenID could be the key to your health (vault)

myOpenIDIn June, that little software company to the north of us, Microsoft, made news by allowing OpenID logins to its Microsoft Health Vault product.

Problem was—as TechCrunch noted—only two OpenID relying parties were allowed to play:

Over 16 months after first declaring its support for the OpenID authentication platform, Microsoft has finally implemented it for the first time, allowing for OpenID logins on its Health Vault medical site. Unfortunately, Health Vault will only support authentication from two OpenID providers: Trustbearer and Verisign. Whatever happened to the Open in OpenID?

But now, Microsoft has decided to increase the number of relying parties by 50%. To three.

So who was the lucky relying party who made it through the door? Portland-based JanRain‘s myOpenID.

A number of folks—me among them—are surprised it’s taken Microsoft this long to add another relying party. And it seems like the list is still missing a few other obvious and highly secure choices.

But myOpenID is a great place to start:

JanRain’s myOpenID service, the first and most popular independent OpenID service on the Internet, provides consumers with a free, fully featured, reliable, and secure solution for managing their personal online identity. Every myOpenID user receives several choices for secure authentication beyond password. These enhanced security options include: Microsoft InfoCard, Client Certificate, or Phone-based two factor authentication.

For more information on the personal health record service, visit Microsoft Health Vault. For more on JanRain and its OpenID solutions, visit JanRain or myOpenID.

MIXr: First mobile social networking app with Silverlight touchscreen UI

MIXr Mood Switcher

Today, Portland-based StepChange Group took the stage at MIX08 to demonstrate a groundbreaking new application: the world’s first gesture-driven, Microsoft-Silverlight powered user interface on a mobile device.

The data-driven touchscreen interface, dubbed MIXr, runs in the Microsoft Windows Mobile 6 environment, and was a proof-of-concept to showcase the functionality of these cutting edge development environments for the MIX audience.

“It was lots of fun—though nerve-wracking—to have our team sharing the stage with Ray Ozzie and Scott Guthrie,” said StepChange’s Kevin Tate.

Aside from the Portland angle, why is this newsworthy?

In my opinion, the release of the MIXr application is important for two specific reasons.

First, it proves the viability of Silverlight as an environment for delivering rich mobile applications. And, on a day when the use of these types of technologies in the mobile environment is being rejected by a major player, that’s a pretty big win.

Second, it gives us a glimpse into the future of social networking.

Unlike many of today’s “social networks on mobile devices,” the MIXr application, developed by StepChange in partnership with San Francisco’s Stimulant, demonstrates how the future of social networking may transition to your mobile device.

In other words, this isn’t a “m.” mobile view into an existing social network application; it is the social network application:

[MIXr] uses real-time user updates to track the mood and status of clubs and venues—and helps friends to connect and coordinate with one another during a night out.

It aggregates user ratings, such as a venue’s mood, line length, and music, and uses interactive data visualization to make it easy to figure out what’s hot and what’s not.

“Rich mobile applications are going to quickly change the way we use the Web everyday,” said Tate. “We’re focused on creating applications that leverage the powerful advantages of location, personalization and communication that the mobile environment provides – and have chosen Silverlight as our platform because of its portability and performance.”

For more information on MIXr and developing rich mobile applications using Silverlight, see Stimulant’s post on the MIXr release and StepChange’s announcement on the MIX08 Keynote.

MyStrands joins Data Portability Working Group

Corvallis-based MyStrands, the service that—among other things—lets you share and compare your musical tastes, has announced that they have decided to join the Data Portability Working Group.

A number of folks are putting their hopes in the Data Portability concept. And, to be sure, their recent “skyrocketing into the tech-public consciousness” momentum may have given them the best chance of solving the problems at hand.

As Scott Kveton highlights in the MyStrands post:

We’re really excited about the work that the Data Portability (DP) group is chartered to do. The goal of the group is to build a set of technical and policy blueprints based on existing technologies and concepts that will allow for the free-flow and control of data by users among sites on the web. Taking advantage of the building blocks like OpenID, OAuth and microformats allows the effort to move that much faster….

MyStrands is committed to the Data Portability group because we believe we can really help make things happen and be an integral part of its success.

Coincidentally, another little company you may have heard of—named Microsoft—just announced that they were going to join the Data Portability Working Group, as well. But, I’m not interested in covering that, because a) Last time I checked, they were a bit north of the Silicon Forest, and b) They may have gotten a little bit of press about it already.

In fact, Portland-based blogger Marshall Kirkpatrick has an insightful write-up on the Microsoft news:

Microsoft’s joining the group is an event of sufficiently complex historical meaning that I’m hesitant to try and interpret it here. Microsoft has both been the ultimate example of lock-in and also an important force behind other open standards efforts on the web, including OpenID. Though no fan of Microsoft, I am consistently excited about what the Live team in particular does. I’ll look for analysis of this and future news about implementation at Live from my favorite source on the topic, LiveSide.

Deep breath. Okay, I realize I’ve just thrown around a whole bunch of jibber jabber at you, which probably makes absolutely no sense.

Just what is this “data portability” and why would we want it? Here’s a simple explanation. (Apparently, Vimeo’s embed code doesn’t like WordPress, so I’m linking now instead. Apologies for the extra click.)

For more on MyStrands reasoning behind joining, read Why MyStrands is joining the Data Portability Workgroup. For more on the Data Portability Working Group, visit dataportability.org.

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