Today in Weekend Reading, we’ve got a bevy of great stories for you – everything from Windows Phone to progress on the Rustock spambot to an inspiring story about a visually impaired Microsoft employee who recently broke both the women’s and men’s world records for blind ironman competitors.

Imagine Cup and the Worldwide Partner Conference. At the Imagine Cup 2011 Worldwide Finals, dozens of student teams showcase software projects that in some cases are already improving disaster relief efforts. Check out this feature story on the Microsoft News Center for more detail. Also, the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) starts next week – so don’t miss this Thursday post on the Official Microsoft Blog about WPC and the Imagine Cup Finals from Frank X. Shaw, corporate vice president of corporate communications here at Microsoft.

Hotmail still new and cool – even after 15 years. This past Monday on the Fourth of July, Hotmail celebrated its 15th anniversary. Make no mistake - Hotmail has come a long way in those 15 years, and to commemorate a number of important milestones over the last several months, we thought we'd show off a list of 15 insanely cool things you might not know about Hotmail. For more on this story, check out this Tuesday post on the Official Microsoft Blog.

TONS of Windows Phone news this week. The folks down at the Windows Phone Blog sure have been busy cranking out stories this week! In this Friday post, Rachel Jiang, a program manager in Windows Phone Engineering, blogs about navigation improvements coming in the next version of the Windows Phone mobile platform, dubbed “Mango.” And on Wednesday, John McConnell, principal program manager in Windows Phone Engineering, blogged about upcoming language support in Mango. Finally, Next at Microsoft Blog Editor Steve Clayton writes about “the fact that a lot of quality apps have been added to the Windows Phone Marketplace over the last week,” including The New York Times, Engadget, AllRecipes.com and others. Check it out.

Microsoft releases new threat data on the Rustock spambot. Since successfully taking down the Rustock botnet on March 16th, Microsoft has continued to analyze the threat, investigate leads on the operations and owners of the botnet and work with Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) worldwide to help the legitimate owners of Rustock-infected computers to clean their computers of malware. On Tuesday, the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit (DCU), the Microsoft Malware Protection Center (MMPC) and Trustworthy Computing released a new Special Edition Security Intelligence Report (SIR) entitled “Battling the Rustock Threat.” Read this Tuesday post on the Official Microsoft Blog for the rest of the story. TechFlash and Computerworld, among others, also covered the story.

New this week: An update to Windows Live Essentials. This week, we will release an update to Windows Live Essentials 2011. In addition to changes that improve performance and quality of service, the update also includes full support for SSL in Windows Live Mail, and the latest Bing bar. For a few more things we think you’ll find the most interesting, read this Wednesday post on the Inside Windows Live Blog.

Microsoft shares source code for Wi-Fi data collection software. As part of Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to consumer privacy, we are taking an additional step to provide even more transparency about how we gather information through managed driving to provide location-based services. On July 1st, Microsoft shared relevant portions of the source code for our managed driving data collection software to provide those interested an opportunity to review the code we use for collection of such information. The source code is hosted on the MSDN web site. For more on this story, read this July 1st post on the Microsoft on the Issues Blog.

Blind Microsoft employee crushes Ironman records. Patricia Walsh recently broke both the women's and men's world records for blind Ironman competitors. Walsh, who lost her vision as a child when doctors removed a brain tumor, is all too happy to shake people's perceptions of her limits. Get the details on this inspiring tale from this feature story on the Microsoft News Center.

Thanks for stopping by today! For another round up of Microsoft news, drop by the Official Microsoft Blog next Wednesday for the Midweek Download.

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog