Microsoft has a lot going on these days: Windows Phone 7, Kinect, Bing, cloud computing – and that’s just in the past week.

Recognizing that the holidays are right around the corner and people are gearing up for vacation, I’ll keep this edition of Weekend Reading brief. We have a lot to cover though, so let’s get into it.

Windows Phone 7. Nationwide auto insurer GEICO and Paramount Digital Entertainment, a division of Hollywood studio Paramount Pictures, announced big news around Windows Phone 7. GEICO agreed to support Windows Phone 7 as a corporate smartphone for its 24,000 employees and made public the availability of a new mobile app called GEICO GloveBox.

Just a day later, Paramount announced the availability of 10 new mobile apps that use Microsoft Silverlight technology to bring an enhanced movie experience to life for Windows smartphone owners. The studio kicked off the new apps with popular titles such as “School of Rock,” “Zoolander” and “GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra.” These apps include the full movie plus additional material. ABC News, tech blog PocketNow.com and a host of other news agencies covered the deal with Paramount.

Bing. Fantastic news on the search front this week. Not only has Bing rolled out a bevy of slick new features, but the search engine continues to do battle against Google. According to a story in TechFlash this week, Bing gained market share during November in the ultra-competitive search market while Google lost share.

Cloud computing. Attention! This is London calling! The public transportation agency in London that oversees the Tube (that’s what the folks in England call the city's subway) announced it will use the Windows Azure cloud computing platform to host a new set of data feeds as part of its Trackernet system. According to this Windows Azure blog post, Trackernet can display the locations of trains, their destinations, signal aspects and the status of individual trains in real time. PCWorld covered the deal with this story.

Kinect for Xbox 360. By now, the whole world knows about the Kinect. But do you know the story behind how Microsoft’s groundbreaking motion sensor actually came into being? These things don’t just invent themselves, and Microsoft Senior Director of Storytelling Steve Clayton unearthed some behind-the-scenes footage about how the Kinect came to be. If you’ve got a few extra minutes, watch this video, which features interviews with those who brought the Kinect to life, as well as a cameo by film director Steven Spielberg.

Internet Explorer. Just when you thought it was safe to go back on the Web…It is, especially if you use Internet Explorer! A new report from independent product analysis company NSS Labs found that IE 8 and IE 9 aren’t just better than Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera when it comes to protecting computers against malware, they blow them out of the water. PCWorld reported the news on Tuesday. Read more about it in this Exploring IE blog post.

Well, I said I’d keep it short, so I’m signing off now. Stay tuned though – Weekend Reading will be back next Friday to recap all the latest developments at Microsoft.

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Senior Manager, Corporate Blogs