Without even standing up from my desk right now, I can see four jerseys representing four different FIFA World Cup contenders – Mexico, England, the United States, and South Africa.  (OK, the South African is actually a rugby jersey…).  It underscores the international nature of Microsoft, and how much fun the next month of football (which we in the U.S. of course call “soccer”) mania is going to be.

Football aside, next week is going to be a huge week for Microsoft.  On Sunday night, we’ll be unveiling our cool new Project Natal gaming system at the E3 Expo 2010 in Los Angeles.  On Monday, we’ll be live-streaming the Xbox team’s E3 news briefing on the Microsoft News Center, announcing a whole slew of new games and other exciting news.

Then on Tuesday, we’ll be launching Office 2010 to consumers.  It’s already getting killer reviews in publications such as USA Today.  Also, in case you missed it, we went live with our Web-based version of Office earlier this week. Office Web Apps helps people access documents and collaborate on work projects from nearly anywhere. It’s a cool tool, reviewers agree, and a great extension of Office 2010.

Here are a few other highlights from this past week to check out in between World Cup games:

  • Bing, our search engine, had an interesting week. On Monday morning, Apple announced that Bing would now be available as a search engine option on the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Macs.  Later that day, Bing made a guest appearance on Stephen Colbert’s show – if you haven’t seen the video yet, it’s pretty funny and all for a good cause.
  • We opened voting for the People’s Choice awards in the Imagine Cup, our annual student technology competition. (Think of it as the World Cup for student technology.) You can see videos of student entries and pick your favorite. It’s part of the buildup to the Imagine Cup finals, which take place July 3-8 in Warsaw.
  • On Wednesday, AllThingsD reviewed our new upgrade of our Hotmail service – “Making Hotmail  Hot Again.
  • We also opened our third retail store, this one in Colorado.

And finally, here’s an item that’s not about Microsoft, but well worth reading – on Monday, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced a grant of $1.5 billion to support maternal and child health. Read Melinda Gates’ blog post on the subject.

Have a great weekend!

Posted by Mark Murray
General Manager, Corporate Communications