REDMOND, Wash., Feb. 25, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Microsoft Corp. today announced that the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has expanded on a global Enterprise Agreement with a new Memorandum of Understanding to offer Microsoft Office 365 and other products as the standard communications and collaboration platform for its National Societies worldwide, helping provide greater licensing flexibility. The signing has the potential to serve more than 1 million volunteers and staff members in the network. (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20000822/MSFTLOGO) Through this renewed and expanded partnership with Microsoft, the IFRC is aiming to help these National Societies grow stronger by more strategically using technology advances such as cloud services, while making the best use of the resources and investments made by donors. Already two of the estimated 80 early-qualifying National Societies — in Bangladesh and Namibia — have deployed Office 365, and many more are expected to follow close behind. "The success we saw from real-world use of Office 365 in our American and Danish Red Cross Societies helped pave the way to this broader adoption," said Edward Happ, Global Chief Information Officer, IFRC. "And now, for the first time in our history, all of our National Societies will have the ability to free up IT spending and time to focus more of their resources on the activities that are ultimately saving lives." Prior to signing the agreement for Office 365, the IFRC was actively seeking a solution to address its internal digital divide and provide smaller National Societies with access to the same tools, same technologies and same modern processes that the larger National Societies have. Based on its fundamental principle of universality, providing equal access to entirely new ways of working regardless of location ensures the National Societies become more efficient, participate more fully in the work of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, work more closely with their partners in the broader organization, and are better able to reach out to the vulnerable communities they serve.
Microsoft released upgrades and products Wednesday including "Surface Studio" for artists. Bill Gates, Microsoft's Co-Founder, appears below with an early computer running the Paint program, the first of its kind.