This week, Microsoft announced record fourth-quarter revenue, battled the Rustock spambot, released a super-cool Star Wars Xbox and Kinect bundle and made an announcement about HealthVault. For those stories and more, check out this edition of Weekend Reading.

Microsoft Reports Record Fourth-Quarter and Full-Year Results. On Thursday, Microsoft announced record fourth-quarter revenue of $17.37 billion for the quarter ended June 30, 2011, an 8 percent increase from the same period of the prior year. Operating income, net income, and diluted earnings per share for the quarter were $6.17 billion, $5.87 billion, and $0.69 per share, which represented increases of 4 percent, 30 percent, and 35 percent, respectively, when compared with the prior year period. Read this press release on the Microsoft News Center for the full results.

Microsoft Offers Reward for Information on Rustock. After publishing notices in two Russian newspapers last month to notify the Rustock spambot operators of the civil lawsuit, Microsoft decided to augment our civil discovery efforts to identify those responsible for controlling the notorious Rustock botnet by issuing a monetary reward in the amount of $250,000 for new information that results in the identification, arrest and criminal conviction of such individual(s). For the rest of this developing story, read this Monday post on The Official Microsoft Blog.

These ARE the droids you’re looking for. During a panel presentation on Thursday at the 41st annual Comic-Con International, Xbox and LucasArts unveiled a limited-edition “Kinect Star Wars” bundle aimed at fans of one of the biggest movie franchises of all time. The hardware includes a custom R2-D2-themed 320 GB Xbox 360 console, which features unique sounds from the Star Wars movies; a white Kinect sensor; and a gold C-3PO-themed Xbox 360 wireless controller. Check out this slideshow to see more images of the bundle, pictured below.

Kinect Star Wars

Kinect for Xbox 360 Brings Gaming to Kids with Disabilities. Kinect, launched last fall, has been dubbed a gaming game-changer. And for some youngsters who’ve never been able to play games before, it’s been a life-changer. By eliminating the controller, Kinect has removed a barrier for some people with mobility and coordination difficulties. Among them is Avri Davis. Although the 14-year-old is the oldest of six children, she’s never been able to keep up with her siblings. Avri was born with hydrocephalus, a situation where excess fluid puts pressure on her brain. The disability limited her coordination and often prevented her from joining in when the family played games on their PlayStation 3. To read more about Avri, read this feature story on the Microsoft News Center.

HealthVault still open for business. Following the Google Health announcement, a number of people have questioned whether Microsoft will continue to develop HealthVault without another vendor like Google to ‘compete’ against. The reality is that we’ve always viewed the status quo as our biggest competitor and Google as an ally in the movement to transform health care around the world – so we’re sorry to lose their voice in the discussion. Since Google’s announcement, the two companies have worked together to create ways for Google Health users to transfer their data into Microsoft HealthVault. Today, we announced an option that leverages the Direct Project protocol for encrypted messaging to enable the data transfer with just a few clicks. Check out the details of this story in this Monday post on The Official Microsoft Blog.

People Week, Version 2.0. This week, Next at Microsoft Blog Editor Steve Clayton is profiling people at Microsoft, with a special focus on designers. Don’t miss these profiles of Sheridan Martin Small, User Experience Designer for Xbox Incubation, and Rochelle Benavides, a design leader who heads up the Experience Development team in our Interactive Entertainment Business.

New research shows Windows Phone is connecting with people. Microsoft is always checking in with Windows Phone customers to see how satisfied they are after they get their new Windows Phone home and get a chance to use it for a bit. After all, that is what really matters, right? How does the phone fit into your life, and how well does it accomplish the things you are asking a smartphone to do? In our surveys, we have found the vast majority of people fall into either the “satisfied” or “very satisfied” camp, something we think is directly attributed to our unique approach to smartphone design which is all about putting people first. To see the survey results, read this Monday post on the Windows Phone Blog.

Microsoft announces $15 million R&D focus on next-generation learning models. At Microsoft, we believe we must continue to create more engaging and effective learning environments that result in improved student performance, and reflect the digital nature of students’ lives. However, all too often we have seen schools implement technology for the sake of technology. So on Monday, we announced a $15 million investment in three key areas of innovation – increasing engagement, managing information and supporting educators. Read this post on the Education Insights Blog for the whole story.

That’s it for this edition of Weekend Reading! Drop by the blog again next week to stay up to date on all the latest news and happenings at Microsoft.

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog