Lots of great Microsoft news from all across the company this week, including yet another prediction from an independent research firm that Windows Phone will continue to grab a bigger piece of the worldwide market for smartphones. Also, Microsoft announced a new deal with Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp. and the Digital Crimes Unit gave an update on the Rustock botnet takedown.

Gartner: Windows Phone will overtake iPhone by 2015. Independent technology research firm Gartner predicted in a new report Thursday that the Windows Phone platform will control 19.5 percent of the worldwide smartphone market by 2015, overtaking Apple’s iPhone. According to Gartner, Microsoft’s strategic partnership with Finnish mobile phone maker Nokia will drive wider adoption of a variety of Windows Phone models over the next several years. Gartner isn’t the only independent market research firm predicting higher market share for Windows Phone. In late March,  IDC predicted that Windows Phone will vault into the number two spot worldwide by 2015 with nearly 21 percent of the market.

Microsoft and Toyota team up on advanced telematics. Microsoft and Toyota announced Wednesday that the two companies have forged a strategic partnership and plan to build a global platform for TMC’s next-generation telematics services using the Windows Azure platform. As part of the partnership, the two companies plan to participate in a 1 billion yen (approximately $12 million) investment in Toyota Media Service Co., a TMC subsidiary that offers digital information services to Toyota automotive customers. For more detail, read this press release.

An update on the Rustock botnet takedown. About three weeks ago, Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit (DCU) and a consortium of industry and law enforcement partners took down the Rustock botnet. Rustock was responsible for sending billions of spam e-mails per day and was estimated to have infected millions of computers. On Thursday, Richard Boscovich, senior attorney at DCU, gave this update on the Rustock botnet on the Microsoft on the Issues Blog.

Young minds tackle tough problems. Projections show there will be about 1.2 million computer specialist jobs in the United States in 2018. Yet current trends show that the United States has only half the number of college graduates needed to fill those positions. Check out this feature story about the Imagine Cup on the Microsoft News to learn more about the annual competition that seeks to inspire today’s student to solve the world’s most difficult problems using technology. And in this video, Next at Microsoft Blog Editor and Imagine Cup judge Steve Clayton talks about what it takes to succeed in the competition. To see some of the projects Imagine Cup competitors are working on, check out this April 1st post on the Bing Search Blog.

Please DO touch the glass. In an unlikely application of the smash-hit device, the Nordstrom flagship store in Seattle has put Kinect in their windows. You can walk by the store and draw on one window using just the motion of your hands. Next at Microsoft Blog Editor Steve Clayton posted a series of videos of the Kinect installation at Nordstrom.

United Nations launches energy-neutral building in Nairobi. On April 1, the UN opened a brand new building in Nairobi that is the first of its kind in Africa and one that acts as a global showcase of sustainable design and technology. The new building illustrates how it is possible to create sustainable 21st century work environments, and is at the center of Microsoft’s green IT strategy.

MSN launches “Tonight on TV.” MSN launched a new 2-minute online show called “Tonight on TV” that highlights “the best bets for TV viewing for upcoming primetime and late night viewing. The show is hosted by Amy Paffrath and will highlight 4-5 ‘can’t miss’ shows.” So, don’t miss it!

Office for Mac Service Pack 1 is on the way. Next week, Microsoft will release Office for Mac 2011 Service Pack 1 (SP1) which will provide increased stability, security, and some new features to the suite – including improved Outlook syncing support – as well as some performance enhancements. Read this April 6th post on the Office for Mac Blog to get the whole story.

Supporting the troops. On Thursday, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer signed a statement of support for the Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve, a U.S. Department of Defense agency focused on promoting a culture in which all employers support and value the military service of all their employees. Check out this post on the FutureFed Blog for more detail.

Thanks for stopping by for this edition of Weekend Reading! We’ll see you back here next Friday, as always.

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog