MSN’s five-day weather forecast for the Seattle area isn’t pretty, so I’ve done my best to dig up the most compelling stories coming out of Microsoft for today’s edition of Weekend Reading.

For those who have decided not to brave the elements, grab a cup of coffee or tea and catch up on what happened at the company this week. Read on!

The future of computing. Where computing will go next was a red hot topic this week at Microsoft, with Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer, showing off a variety of next-generation natural user interface technologies to the technology and business press. Check out this image slideshow, which provides a glimpse into computing’s future at the Microsoft Home, and this video gallery on the Rethinking Computing pressroom. TechFlash Managing Editor Todd Bishop wrote an in-depth recap of the week’s future of computing news, including a few pieces of video of Mundie and others from Microsoft Research.

Sprint to offer new Windows Phone. Sprint is now taking pre-orders for the HTC Arrive, the latest addition to the Windows Phone family. The Arrive features a slide-out, full QWERTY keyboard and tilt-up display and will cost $199.99 with a two-year contract with Sprint. Read more about the new phone in this Feb. 24th post on the Windows Phone Blog. And just in case you missed it, here is the Feb. 18th edition of Pinworthy for all you app-happy WP7 smartphone owners out there. That's the HTC Arrive there below.

Windows Phone 7 Update. Earlier this week, Microsoft rolled out its first update for the Windows Phone 7 family of smartphones. Check out this Feb. 21st post on the Windows Phone Blog to get the basics on how, when and where you’ll receive the update for your WP7 phone and this Feb. 24th follow-up post that should clarify most questions related to the update.

Bing expands Facebook “liked results.” A few months ago, Bing and Facebook launched Liked Results, which promotes links your friends have liked or shared via Facebook. Now, Bing is “extending Liked Results to annotate any of the URLs returned by our algorithmic search results to all users in the US,” according to this Feb. 24th post on the Bing Search Blog.

And now, a quick update on new Microsoft Hardware. Fans of the Arc Touch Mouse and keyboard will want to take a gander at this Feb. 24th post from Next at Microsoft Blog Editor Steve Clayton, which features his take on two new products out of Microsoft Hardware – the Express Mouse and the LifeCam HD-3000. It’s a gadget lover’s paradise.

Coming soon to Xbox Live Marketplace. Xbox Live’s Major Nelson reports the availability of the following titles in the marketplace – “Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 Co-op Collection,” “Splinter Cell Chaos Theory” (as of the week of Feb. 21st), “PAC-MAN Champion Edition DX” (Feb. 28th) and “Beyond Good & Evil HD” (March 2nd.) Check out this Feb. 17th post on Major Nelson’s blog for a complete list.

More news from Hotmail. In this Feb. 21st post on the Inside Windows Live Blog, Hotmail Group Program Manager Dick Craddock reports that the availability of Facebook Chat in Hotmail has expanded from six regions throughout the globe to worldwide availability. And on Feb. 22nd on the Inside Windows Live Blog, Windows Live ID Group Program Manager Eric Doerr reports on new features Microsoft has developed so customers can protect their Hotmail accounts from being hijacked.

Can business change the world for the better? Microsoft Unlimited Potential Blog writer Tim Drubel thinks so. Drubel reports on the annual Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition hosted by the University of Washington Foster School of Business, which brings 10 to 15 teams of students to Seattle each year. “From clean toilets and waste processing in Kenya to water transportation and storage in India to sustainable fish farming in Ghana and skilled workforce training in Ethiopia, the range of business ideas is amazing,” Drubel writes. Microsoft has sponsored the event for seven years.

That’s it for this week’s edition of Weekend Reading. Thanks for dropping by, and stay warm!

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Senior Manager, Corporate Blogs