The Fourth of July holiday may mean a shortened week at Microsoft, but it didn’t keep the company from making news on a number of fronts, including the next version of Internet Explorer.

Second IE10 platform preview available for developers. IE10 Platform Preview 2, the same HTML5 engine seen in the recent public “Windows 8” demos, is now available for download. With this update, IE10 continues to deliver support for site-ready HTML5 technologies as well as improving performance. IE10 continues IE9’s precedent of enabling Web applications to do more in the browser without plug-ins. It also continues the pattern of offloading work to the parts of a PC that are best suited for them, like the GPU for graphics, and different processor cores for background compilation of JavaScript. For more on this story, read this June 29th post on the IEBlog and this June 29th post on the Exploring IE Blog.

And in other Internet Explorer news…Responsive Web pages result in happier consumers. With Web workers, Web applications are more responsive by offloading complex JavaScript algorithms to run in the background. IE10 Platform Preview 2 includes complete tooling support for Web workers. Want more details? Check out this July 1st post on the IEBlog.

Microsoft scoops seven IDEA awards for design. In this July 1st post, Next at Microsoft Blog Editor Steve Clayton writes, “Lets be honest, Microsoft isn’t synonymous with design. Which is a shame as there is a strong culture of design here. Their work is starting to shine through in our products though…and it looks like I’m not alone in that observation. The Industrial Designers Society of America yesterday announced that Microsoft had won seven awards in their annual International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA). Nice.” Nice indeed.

Now available: Windows Phone 7 + Cloud Services SDK. Microsoft Research has just released a SDK preview download of its Windows Phone 7 + Cloud Services Software Development Kit. (SDK) This SDK is designed around developing Windows Phone 7 applications with services that are not available to the general public. These services include computation (Windows Azure); storage (Windows Azure); authentication (Windows Live ID); notification; client-back-up; client-code distribution and location. Check out this June 20th post on the Windows Azure Blog for the rest of the story.

Sailing in the cloud with Office 365. Three friends are sailing the U.S. Eastern Seaboard in search of the American spirit. They’ve chronicled their journey and stayed connected with help from Office 365, an official sponsor of the trip. To read more about their adventure and how Office 365 helps them tell it, check out this feature story on the Microsoft News Center.

Thanks for reading this edition of the Midweek Download. Come back this Friday for another round up of Microsoft news in Weekend Reading.

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog