This week at Microsoft, the Windows Phone team announced the availability of the ESPN ScoreCenter app for sports fans just in time for the return of the boys of summer. Also this week, Microsoft held the Imagine 2011 advertising summit and introduced a bevy of new features for Hotmail.

ESPN ScoreCenter app comes to Windows Phone. Sports fans, your time has come! The highly anticipated ESPN ScoreCenter app is now available on Windows Phone. Windows Phone Blog writer Michael Stroh reports, “The app offers scores and news for hundreds of sports leagues around the world, so you’ll never miss another goal, pitch, basket, try, touchdown, or wicket. It also boasts one of the slickest designs of any Windows Phone app to date.”

It’s only the first inning. With America’s pastime starting up in earnest again this weekend, we thought it appropriate to point out that, just as the baseball season is young, so too is the global market for smartphones. Earlier this week, Framingham, Mass.-based independent market research firm IDC predicted that the Windows Phone platform will vault to the number two spot worldwide by 2015 to own nearly 21 percent of the market. Just sayin’.

Hotmail introduces new Active Views features. Earlier this week at Web 2.0 in San Francisco, the Windows Live team showed off a bevy of new features that let users do more with Hotmail right from their inbox using Active Views technology. Check out this image gallery on the Microsoft News Center to get a closer look at some of the new features, which include the ability to view information from NetFlix and LinkedIn, among others. The Windows Live team also announced a new Hotmail feature that riffs off of Internet Explorer 9’s pinning capabilities. Users who have pinned Hotmail to their taskbars in Windows 7 now receive notifications when they get new e-mail messages.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer attends Imagine 2011. At Microsoft’s Imagine 2011 marketing leadership summit on Wednesday, Ballmer talked about the next big opportunity in advertising. In this feature story on the Microsoft News Center, Ballmer predicted that the intersection between next-generation digital technology and major consumer brands will continue to grow. Hollywood director Ron Howard, whose directorial credits include “Apollo 13”, “A Beautiful Mind” and “Parenthood”, also spoke at Imagine 2011. Take a look at the video below to get his take on the intersection between advertising and storytelling:

Bing feature update. Microsoft recently introduced two new ways to experience Twitter and Facebook on Bing. Now alongside the latest headlines on Bing News, you will find a real-time feed with the latest updates from Twitter highlighting hot news topics. Search for a news item and immediately see what people are tweeting on the topic. Also, Bing entertainment pages now enable you to click on the “overview” tab and post “what’s on your mind” directly to your Facebook page.

Spam is DOWN! As you may have heard, Microsoft and a variety of partners in law enforcement and the technology industry recently took down the Rustock botnet, which was responsible for sending billions of pieces of spam per day to sell Viagra and other prescription drugs. Looks like the team’s efforts paid off. According to this March 30th TechFlash story, Symantec reports that global spam fell by a whopping 34 percent immediately after the Rustock botnet was smashed.

The geek behind that beak. Geekwire writer John Cook profiled the “geek behind that beak” in this March 28th story about Ryan Asdourian, the hardware marketing lead here at Microsoft who gets the Seahawks faithful at Qwest Field all riled up during football season as Blitz, the team’s mascot. Asdourian, who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2008, also spends a great deal of time raising awareness and funds to combat MS. Check out this March 28th post on the Microsoft JobsBlog to read more about Asdourian’s extraordinary story.

Thanks for reading! We’ll see you back here next Friday for another edition of Weekend Reading.

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog