Incredibles 2 Xbox One X, Nasdaq Taps Into Azure Blockchain, Ballmers Issue Grants

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Pedestrians walking in front of the Microsoft store in New York. Photographer: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg

“Microsoft Monday” is a weekly column that focuses on all things Microsoft. This week “Microsoft Monday” features news about Nasdaq tapping into Azure blockchain technology, Mixer gaining monetization options, the Ballmer family providing grants to Michigan-based organizations, the Xbox One X Incredibles 2 Custom Console Sweepstakes and more!

Nasdaq Taps Into Azure Blockchain Technology

Microsoft has announced that its Azure blockchain technology is going to be used to power Nasdaq’s Financial Framework (NFF) system. The goal of this partnership is to set up a platform that does not rely on a single particular distributed ledger.

Microsoft Azure general manager Matthew Kerner pointed out that Nasdaq re-architected its enterprise offerings and released the NFF a couple of years ago. This Framework has a modular design that leverages a single operational core powering a portfolio of business applications and services across the trading lifecycle. And this allows Nasdaq customers to easily add/remove/amend their mission-critical technology stack without the complexities associated with monolithic infrastructure systems.

“Azure will deliver highly secure interoperation and communication between the Nasdaq Financial Framework core infrastructure, ecosystem middleware and customer technologies, using an innovative blockchain microservices suite to execute transactions and contracts,” wrote Kerner.

Mixer Gains More Monetization Options

An update to the Microsoft Mixer streaming service is being rolled out. This includes new ways for gamers to monetize their video streams.

For example, the Skills feature adds the ability to send animated stickers and effects on the service. And every time a view uses a skill on a partner’s channel, a small financial benefit will be given to the streamer.

Sparks is a way to provide financial support to streamers without having to tap into bank accounts. Sparks can be earned by watching streams, spending them on Skills, and helping partnered streamers reach milestones that give them real money payouts.

Mixer Embers are a virtual currency that can be used to buy and use on high-value Skills. Not available as of yet, Embers will be a paid currency that provides streamers with “direct financial rewards and bigger celebrations.”

Progression will be launching on Mixer next year. And Progression will reward your entire engagement with a streamer’s community and on Mixer as a whole. You can level up by participating in chats, using Skills and earning Applause from other users. And by coming back each day, it will also help your Progression.

Several improvements are being made to Mixer’s video capabilities as well. For example, Mixer is gaining automatic bitrate switching to account for varying bandwidth. And Mixer will also provide more options for creators to use FTL streaming on a broader array of streaming software and devices by adding support for ingesting via the RTMP standard. Plus Mixer viewers will be able to easily report any video-specific issues they see.

Ballmer Family Provides Grants To Organizations In Michigan

According to The Detroit News, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and his wife Connie Ballmer are going to quietly donate millions of dollars to businesses in southeast Michigan. Steve and Connie Ballmer have put in $16 million in the form of grants for 18 local nonprofits in Michigan so far through the Ballmer Group.

Steve Ballmer is a native of Detroit, which is one of the biggest reasons why he is focused on this area. The Ballmers announced the grants at a conference area in Detroit on Friday morning.

But going forward, the announcements will be made from the grantees rather than from the Ballmers themselves. “You can’t give money away without getting attention, and that’s too bad,” said Connie Ballmer via The Detroit News.

The Ballmer Group was set up as an LLC to help children and families who are dealing with poverty. As an LLC, the Ballmer Group will have the flexibility to make impact investments and put money into lobbying efforts. Steve Ballmer said that the goal is to help a higher percentage of kids move up the “economic totem pole.”

Prior to becoming the CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer was a valedictorian in high school and went to Harvard with the intention of studying to become a professor. But then he met Bill Gates at Harvard and the rest is history.

One of the grants was given to Planned Parenthood of Michigan as a way to provide resources for parental education. And some of the other grants were provided to organizations involved with the quality of life.

Disney/Pixar And Xbox Announce ‘Xbox One X Incredibles 2 Custom Console Sweepstakes’

Incredibles 2 Xbox One XMicrosoft

Microsoft and Disney have announced a sweepstake for an Xbox One X Incredibles 2 Custom Console. Incredibles 2 became available digitally on the Microsoft Store on October 23. And it will be available on Blu-ray & 4K Ultra HD November 6.

“Each custom console will have one of two Incredibles-inspired designs and includes a physical copy of ‘Incredibles 2’ on 4K Ultra HD. Enter now for your chance to win at from now until November 16, 2018. Open to U.S. and Canadian (excluding Quebec) residents only,” said Microsoft in a blog post.

Cloud Factory Partnership With Walmart

Walmart is going to expand its technology center in Austin, Texas to accelerate digital innovation. At the technology center, about 30 engineers from Walmart and Microsoft will together side-by-side in the “cloud factory” — which is expected to open in early 2019 as an extension of a strategic partnership announced in July.

The combined Walmart and Microsoft team will be called “” internally based on the cloud factory’s location at Fourth and Colorado. And the team will initially work on migrating Walmart’s thousands of internal business applications to Microsoft Azure. Plus the team will also build new cloud-native applications.

This collaboration is part of a multi-year process for modernizing Walmart’s enterprise application portfolio and is expected to create more efficient business processes and decreases operational costs associated with legacy architecture.