So far this week, the biggest stories out of Microsoft are the Worldwide Partner Conference and the 2011 Imagine Cup. Read on for those and other news bits in this week’s edition of the Midweek Download.

Worldwide Partner Conference Round Up. This week, Microsoft celebrates the accomplishments of its 640,000 partners from all areas of the globe at the four-day Worldwide Partner Conference in Los Angeles. On day one of WPC, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer credited our partners with helping to make Windows 7 the fastest-selling operating system in history and announced that more than 400 million Windows 7 licenses have been sold to date. On day two of WPC, Satya Nadella, president of the Server and Tools Business, discussed how partners can benefit from the transition to cloud computing by helping customers improve agility, focus on business goals and reduce costs. Not enough WPC news for you? Then check out this feature story on the Microsoft News Center that highlights the benefits of cloud computing and the value of vertical applications and services as well as this feature story with Windows Phone “Mango” partner news. Also on day two, Microsoft announced tools and solutions to help partners capitalize on the opportunities in cloud computing. For more updates on WPC, go to the Microsoft News Center.

More women than ever at Imagine Cup. As just about anyone who’s paying attention to the technology industry knows, this is the week that the 2011 Imagine Cup finalists were named. What people might NOT know, however, is that more women than ever now participate in the year-long student technology competition. On Monday, Next at Microsoft Blog Editor Steve Clayton noted the upswing in women participating in Imagine Cup: “The good news is that this year’s worldwide finals feature more than twice the number of women who participated last year - clearly a move in the right direction.” Good news indeed. Read the rest of the story on the Next at Microsoft Blog and get the latest updates on the competition from the Microsoft News Center. Also, check out this video, which showcases some of the students’ projects.

Resources for Windows Phone Mango developers. Last week, Microsoft released Beta 2 of the Mango developer tools. Even more excitingly, we made pre-release images of the Mango OS for retail devices available to developers registered with App Hub. We want to make it as easy as possible for devs to get started now building outstanding Windows Phone apps leveraging all of the new functionality we’ve added in Windows Phone Mango. As anyone watching our page on Reddit or our Twitter tag knows, there are a very large set of resources being created on a weekly basis for Windows Phone developers. Check out this July 8th post on the Windows Phone Developer Blog for a comprehensive list of those resources.

More on HTML5 and Internet Explorer 10. The Web is better when developers can use the same markup and same code across different browsers with the same results. The second platform preview of IE10 makes progress in this area by fully supporting the HTML5 parsing algorithm. This continues work Microsoft started in previous releases to improve IE’s HTML parser to make more HTML “just work” in the same way across browsers. Some key examples include supporting SVG-in-HTML, supporting HTML5 semantic elements, preserving the structure of unknown elements, and improving whitespace handling. As a result of this work, most HTML parses the same across IE9 and other browsers. For more on this story, read this July 6th post on the IEBlog.

Windows Azure Marketplace expands application selling capabilities in U.S. Launched last November, the Windows Azure Marketplace is an online marketplace for developers to share, find, buy and sell building block components, training, service templates, premium data sets plus finished services and applications needed to build Windows Azure applications. On Tuesday at WPC 2011 in Los Angeles, Microsoft announced that it expanded the capability of the marketplace to sell finished applications built on Windows Azure in U.S. markets. We will expand this capability to additional geographies in the coming months. More details on this story can be found in this Tuesday post on the Windows Azure Blog.

That’s it for this edition of the Midweek Download. Stop by the Official Microsoft Blog on Friday for the Weekend Reading news round up.

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog