Welcome to the first edition of Weekend Reading for the spring of 2011! The MSN weather forecast for this week tells us to expect more rain showers, but at least that mercury is creeping ever upward to warmer temperatures.

In this week’s installment, we’ve got an item about two new Windows Phones, a story about Microsoft nabbing Target as a virtualization customer and – just in case you missed it – a fascinating piece on the takedown of the Rustock botnet.

Aaaaannnndddddd off we go!

New handsets, new apps for Windows Phone family. And in other Windows Phone news this week, two new handsets have joined the family – the HTC Arrive and the HTC HD7S. That’s the HD7S below. The Arrive is the first Windows Phone for CDMA networks and is available through Sprint. The HD7S – available through AT&T – is aimed at people who love movies and videos. The phone features an eye-popping 4.3-inch super LCD touchscreen and a built-in kickstand that basically turns any tabletop into a mini-movie theater. Also coming soon to the Windows Phone Marketplace, which now has more than 10,000 apps – apps from AccuWeather and the New York Times.

Microsoft is on Target. Earlier this week, Microsoft announced a big customer win for its Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V and Microsoft System Center technology. Target Corp. is running business-critical workloads for all its retail stores on 15,000 virtual machines using Microsoft virtualization and management technologies, giving its IT department greater agility and economies of scale. The folks on the Virtualization Team Blog as well as CNET’s Jay Greene also covered the story.

Take THAT spambots! Last Friday, the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit (DCU) – in conjunction with various law enforcement agencies across the world – helped take down the Rustock botnet. It was the second major botnet takedown by DCU – in February 2010, the Waledac botnet was also dismantled. For those that don’t know, a botnet is a network of compromised computers controlled by hackers known as “bot-herders” used to conduct various attacks ranging from denial of service attacks on websites, to spamming, click fraud, and distribution of new forms of malicious software. The Wall Street Journal and Geekwire, among others, covered the Rustock story.

New Windows Live Essentials update available. Fans of Windows Live Essentials will be happy to hear that a new update – dubbed QFE1 – is now available. This update primarily addresses the top quality-related issues that impact a large number of Microsoft customers.

Bing Mobile, Bing Autos and Bing Video. Basically, Bing. On Tuesday, Bing launched updates to Bing for Mobile that makes it easier for you to get and view information while on the go. New features in this update include better and faster image search, real-time transit and directions, app search for the iPhone, and more. Also in Bing-related news this week, Next at Microsoft Blog Editor Steve Clayton opines on the benefits and smart features of Bing Autos. Finally, there’s this TechFlash story reporting that Microsoft jumped to the number-two spot on comScore’s online video traffic rankings, driven largely by Bing Video.

Office 2010 - one copy sells every second. Since its release last spring, Office 2010 has become the fastest-selling version of the massively popular productivity suite ever. In this March 24th feature story on the Microsoft News Center, Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Office Division product management group, tells us what's behind Office 2010's success.

The Imagine Cup. On Wednesday, Microsoft announced the U.S. finalists for the Imagine Cup 2011 - the world's premier student technology competition that challenges students to build life-changing projects that can eventually change the world through the use of technology. This year's Imagine Cup also attracted - for the first time - teams from several Historically Black Colleges and Universities. MTV also covered the Imagine Cup and the People's Choice Awards with this blog post.

Thanks for stopping by for this edition of Weekend Reading. See you back here next Friday!

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog