Microsoft is taking this year’s Pride to a whole new level with the number of events, products, and efforts it is offering. Starting it is the company’s $170,000 contribution to LGBTQIA+ nonprofits globally, which adds to the $8 million it has already donated to organizations supporting LGBTQIA+ communities in 2021 alone.
“To recognize the launch of our 2022 Pride campaign and products, we’re additionally contributing a total of $170,000 to OutRight Action International, African Rainbow Family, National Center for Transgender Equality, Mermaids, Lavender Project and Fulcrum UA to help in the fight for LGBTQIA+ equity and equality,” Microsoft notes.
And to distinguish this year’s Pride from last year, Microsoft is releasing a new campaign aesthetic. From a dozen community flags the previous year, it is now incorporating 33 flags representing LGBTQIA+ identities, one Ally flag, and one Polyamory flag. This work extends to the special “Show your Pride” theme it is now offering to its suite of apps and products, such as iOS: Outlook, Teams, OneNote, Office, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint; Android: Outlook and Teams; Mac: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. Additionally, the company is offering new LGBTQIA+ flag-inspired Windows wallpapers and Skype virtual backgrounds and scenes.
Microsoft’s new LGBTQIA+ campaign aesthetic goes down to its hardware offerings. With this, expect the release of a limited-edition Pride Skin for Surface Laptop 13.5” and 15” and Surface Pro 8 in the US, Canada, and the UK, and a newly designed Xbox Pride controller. Compared to last year, the latter’s design availability will reach more destinations.
Microsoft also stresses that they are giving gamers the chance to design their own Xbox Pride controller this year. Initially, the controller will sport a redesigned top case featuring “34 community flags in a striking, interwoven and unforgettable manner that celebrates the beauty, complexity and diversity of the LGBTQIA+ experience.” Nonetheless, for locations where Xbox Design Lab is available, customizations will be offered in the color palette, metallic finishes, rubberized grips, and engraving of the controller. This offer will be available starting on June 9.
Xbox is also offering more by giving the Xbox Gear Shop a new 2022 Pride collection, composed of limited-edition T-shirts, totes, and more. Celebration of Pride at Xbox, of course, won’t be complete without games. As such, Xbox will give us some games personally curated by LGBTQIA+ communities at Microsoft, including Unsighted, No Longer Home, Tiny Tina’s Wonderland, and Dead by Daylight. 343 Industries and Forza Franchise also join the celebration by releasing the “Unity” nameplate and emblem and Forza rainbow livery, respectively.
On the other hand, Microsoft launched the “Microsoft Unlocked” with a Pride theme. The company plans to use the site as “a new digital destination for stories from the heart and soul of innovation.” Currently, the site features a wide variety of stories relating to LGBTQIA+, but Microsoft says it will expand to other topics (accessibility, sustainability, culture, science, radical tech, and more) in the coming months.
At the same time, Microsoft is doing an experimental metaverse event called Pride has no borders. “Learn about the state of LGBTQIA+ rights in a virtual world from activists, players and advocates from LGBTQIA+ communities at Microsoft, Team Xbox and organizations like the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA World) and OutRight Action International,” notes Microsoft. “Immerse yourself in a bit of Pride history in a metaverse space. Discover how we can bridge borders and bring about collective change for all.”
The virtual event, which will be on June 17 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. PST., will be live-streamed on YouTube and is accessible via AltSpaceVR on Windows or macOS, Windows Mixed Reality headset, HTC Vive, or Oculus Rift. In relation to that, Xbox will also be dedicating its June livestreaming content to LGBTQIA+ communities by presenting episodes that “will cover how Xbox is supporting LGBTQIA+ communities to play as their authentic selves and experience the joy of play with a community who values self-expression.”