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NORAD, Microsoft to 'Track Santa' in 2013 with more 'touchy, feely' UI

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Last year, NORAD ended its long-standing relationship with Google and opted for Bing Maps for its Santa Claus Tracker. This year, the new partnership continues, and Microsoft is making sure that the 2013 version of the Santa Tracker website is going to work well with the latest generation of its browsers. As Engadget said on Tuesday, the new site will sport an updated web-based tracker designed for touch-friendly browsers, including Internet Explorer 11.

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The Internet Explorer logo in the upper left corner of the page (see above) clearly shows the partnership is still going strong.

The update site will let fans follow Santa around the world by spinning a WebGL-powered globe with their fingers, and -- exposing the Microsoft-centric nature of the site -- users can even call NORAD through Skype to get a telephonic update.

Of course, Christmas is some time away, but don't worry: Microsoft is promising a daily set of games, movies and music. Native apps are available for Windows Phone, Android, and iOS, as well as a Modern UI-based Windows 8 app.

The now-cherished NORAD Tracks Santa tradition began in 1955, when a typo in a Sears Roebuck ad invited children to speak to Santa on the phone. The error meant that the calls were instead routed to NORAD's predecessor, the Continental Aerospace Defense Command.

The on-duty officers played along, and it has since become an annual event, done with the help of technology giant Google from 2007 - 2011, and now with the aid of Microsoft.

Despite losing its NORAD connection last year, Google had its own tracker. Ironically, due to the ubiquity of YouTube, NORAD and Microsoft have to rely on Google's YouTube division for their online videos.

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