More Surface give-aways, Andy Lees on leave and other Microsoft news of the week

A quick round-up of Microsoft-related news of the week, with the latest on Surface, Microsoft reorg rumors and more.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Here's a quick round-up of Microsoft-related news of the week from here, there and everywhere.


Microsoft's channel-clearing on Surfaces continues: The Redmondians seem to be trying to move as many of their current-generation Surface RTs and Pros as possible. As GeekWire noted this week, Microsoft is offering to give away free Surface RTs to 10,000 teachers attending the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference later this month. Meanwhile, around the same time in Madrid at its TechEd Europe conference, Microsoft is going to offer a steep discount on the price of Surface RT and Pro, similar to the one it recently offered TechEd North America attendees. At TechEd Europe, attendees can buy one each of a Surface RT 64GB standalone (with FREE touch cover) for €79.99 for EU customers and £69.99 GBP for UK customers, and Surface Pro 128GB standalone for €349.99 for EU customers and £299.99 for UK customers. Is Microsoft emptying its Surface cupboards ahead of an introduction of new (hopefully Haswell-based) Surfii? Still no word from the company on that.

What about Microsoft Build attendees? Will they get Surface discounts, too? I've had more than a few readers ask whether Microsoft also plans to offer attendees of its Build conference in late June a similar Surface RT/Pro discount deal. The Softies aren't sharing about what kind of swag paying Build attendees will get. One of my contacts said he's heard attendees will get a free Surface Pro plus a free Acer Iconia W3 8-inch tablet. I wonder whether a Nokia Lumia of some kind might not be part of the grab bag, too — along with various software development kits and other software/service goodies.

Andy Lees goes on leave: Microsoft veteran Andy Lees, who most recently served as Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Development, is going on sabbatical and back to the U.K. Supposedly, Lees isn't permanently leaving the company and will take on a new role, which Microsoft will announce later this year. Replacing Lees on the Corporate Development front will be Marc Brown, while Charlie Songhurst will remain head of Strategy. Lees is leaving his current role as of July 1, the start of Microsoft's new fiscal year. Lees seemingly played a role in Microsoft's partnership/investment deal with Barnes & Noble after he left his position heading Windows Phone in late 2011. Is Lees' departure prelude to the rumored cross-company reorg? We might find out soon...

New Office 365 password sync tool: I mentioned this briefly on Windows Weekly this week, but if you've been having trouble syncing your Active Directory and Office 365 passwords, this tool might be for you. As of June 3, 2013, password sync is included as part of Office 365 mid-size and enterprise subscription plans. Officially known as the Office 365 Directory Synchronization tool (or "Dirsync" for short), the tool allows organizations to sync users' Active Directory passwords with their Office 365 passwords. Before this, the only option for doing this was to implement single sign-on with Active Directory Federation Services or by purchasing a third-party password sync tool, according to Microsoft execs.

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