Microsoft's Cortana, Bing, Edge, Maps and Azure teams come together to help track Santa

2015 is the 60th year in which the North American Aerospace Defense Command (better known as NORAD) has helped to keep track of Santa as he embarks on his annual mission to deliver toys to children around the world.

Since 2013, Microsoft has been a part of that effort too as NORAD's partner on its Santa-tracking website - and this year, the company is adding new features that bring together several of its products for an extra dose of festive fun, as Santanu Basu, senior product manager for Bing marketing, explained:

This year we’ve got Bing, Cortana, Microsoft Edge, Windows Maps coming together, and again, Microsoft is partnering with NORAD to bring children and their parents a delightful experience. They’ll discover games throughout December, and then they’ll track Santa on the 24th as he’s going around the world, and discover more about those cities he’s visiting.

In Microsoft's new Edge browser on Windows 10, for example, children can color in various Christmas-themed pictures.

On Windows 10 Mobile and PCs, Android and iOS, kids of all ages will be able to ask Cortana "Where is Santa?" and on December 24, Cortana will also automatically provide updates on Santa's whereabouts.

The NORAD Tracks Santa app is available on Windows 10, Android and iOS devices too, offering "all the same features and functionality as the Web experience, including the tracking starting Christmas Eve", along with the ability to explore Santa's Village, playback of classic Christmas tunes, and more.

Along with free mini-games, you can also view maps with guides on how various cultures around the world celebrate Christmas, and as Microsoft explains:

Once Santa’s journey starts on Dec. 24, kids will see hundreds of points on the home page globe that give them more details about many more cities.

“Last year, we put in links where you could see where Santa is, and then click through Bing to find out more,” Quinlan says. “We’ve updated the experience so it’s now got a carousel with some of the major cities so it’s easier to explore, and we’ve got these richer answers in Bing.”

Together the new features create a more immersive experience for visitors to the site, with support from Bing to educate them about the various locales and the tracker.

Bing's director of product marketing, Matthew Quinlan, said: "We focus on big cultural moments and building an experience that sparks the imagination. The holidays, for us, are one of those great natural moments that bring people together and fuel this sense of wonder. And at no time is that more important than this time of year, with children and families coming together.”

The work that Microsoft put into creating its festive experience marked its own 'coming together', pooling resources from its Bing, Edge, Maps, DX and Cortana teams, along with plenty of help from the elves in its Azure division, to ensure that everything (hopefully) works smoothly to support tens of millions of visitors eager to keep track of Santa on his busiest day of the year.

How to track Santa

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