MSN’s five-day forecast gives Redmond a glimmer of sunshine, but if the sun fails to make an appearance, here is a little Weekend Reading to fill up the time.

Hulu Plus goes live on Xbox Live. Hulu Plus is now available on Xbox Live. The online video service will be available to all Xbox Live members (Free or Gold) from today until May 6th, so be sure to try it out. Read this post on Major Nelson’s blog for more information.

IE9 versus Chrome: which one blocks malware better? In this April 25th story, ZDNet writer Ed Bott compares the way IE9 and Google’s Chrome Web browser handle a “widespread and extremely persistent” form of malware. While Chrome was exploited in “four easy clicks,” IE9 stopped “95 percent of these attacks in their tracks,” according to Bott. “This is one feature that other browser makers—especially Google—desperately need to copy,” he concluded.

Now in Windows Phone Marketplace: Groupon and Home Depot. The headline says it all. Two hot new apps are now available in the Marketplace: one for deal hunters and one for the handyman in all of us. Read this April 22nd post on the Windows Phone Blog to read more about the new apps. Also, read the latest report on those Windows Phone updates.

Three tips for Internet Explorer Mobile. In this April 25th post on the Windows Phone Blog, the Windows Phone team shares three tips for the mobile version of Internet Explorer: customizing shortcut tiles, faster searching and options on how you view the Web. All three tips are really handy, so check them out.

Ribbon Hero 2: Clippy makes a comeback. That’s right, folks, he’s back! Clippy, the virtual Office assistant, plays a role in Ribbon Hero 2, a new training game out of Office Labs designed to teach users a bevy of tips and shortcuts for getting the most out of Office. Watch this video on the Microsoft Office Blog for an introduction to Ribbon Hero 2.

Bing Rewards. Since launching Bing Rewards in September, the Bing Bar has been the main way for members to learn about new offers to earn credits, track their credit balance and redeem their credits for Rewards. Now, Microsoft has integrated Bing Rewards into the Bing header for easy and quick access to earning credits and redeeming rewards. Bing Rewards is now available to users on Internet Explorer 7 or later and the latest versions of Firefox, Chrome, and Safari browsers. Also, check out new updates to a number of Bing shopping features.

Windows 7 at 18 months. Eighteen months ago, Microsoft launched Windows 7 and since then, we’ve hit an important milestone: Windows 7 has sold more than 350 million licenses. The momentum we’ve seen and continue to see with Windows 7 is incredible. In this April 22nd post on Blogging Windows, blogger Brandon LeBlanc goes into detail about what those numbers mean.

Harmonic convergence: music and social networking join forces. Soundtrckr, a BizSpark One startup, mashes Internet radio with social networking and location-awareness to help users create a soundtrack for their lives. With it, people can play music they enjoy, find people nearby who are playing other types of music, and listen to their choices. Read this feature story on the Microsoft News Center for more detail about the exciting startup.

Crushed by your calendar? Try this app. “Your calendar can be on top of you, or you can be on top of your calendar,” said Tom Casey, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Business Platform Division. To ensure he continues to operate in the latter group, Casey and his executive assistant, Melissa Krohn, are beta testers for a new business intelligence app called Calendar Analytics. The PowerPivot application retrieves meeting and other information from Exchange and presents it in a simple, easy-to-read dashboard they can use to analyze (and sometimes even change) how the executive uses his time compared to his priorities. Read this feature story on the Microsoft News Center for more detail.

That’s it for this edition of Weekend Reading. Thanks for dropping by, and don’t forget to come back next Friday for another Microsoft news roundup.

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog