It was a big week at Microsoft to say the least. In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got news stories about Skype, Xbox 360, Hotmail and Windows Phone 7.5. Check ‘em out.

European Commission approves Skype acquisition. Last May, Microsoft and Skype Global S.à r.l announced that they entered into a definitive agreement under which Microsoft would acquire Skype, the leading Internet communications company, for $8.5 billion in cash from the investor group led by Silver Lake. Today, the acquisition was approved by the European regulators. Read this press release on the Microsoft News Center to see a statement from Brad Smith, executive vice president and general counsel at Microsoft, regarding the approval of the acquisition by the European Commission.

Microsoft teams up with Comcast, Verizon and others in slew of content deals. Earlier this week, Microsoft announced that nearly 40 world-leading TV and entertainment providers, including Bravo, Comcast, HBO, Syfy, Verizon FiOS in the U.S., BBC in the UK, Rogers in Canada, Telefónica in Spain and Televisa in Mexico and many others, will begin providing live TV and video-on-demand experiences via Xbox 360 this holiday season. To get the rest of this story, read this Wednesday post on The Official Microsoft Blog. Below is a screenshot showing off the voice-powered search feature on Xbox 360:

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It’s time to take another look at Hotmail. Seriously. It’s kind of a big deal. Over the past year and a half, the Hotmail team has worked extremely hard to release both improvements to the service and completely new features that help people work through their e-mail quicker. Improvements to the already worldwide popular service are focused n three areas: speed, spam and the mobile experience. Check out this Thursday post on The Official Microsoft Blog, which features three short sizzle reel videos that show off some of the improvements to Hotmail.

What’s your favorite new Windows Phone 7.5 feature? On Sept. 27th, Microsoft started rolling out Windows Phone 7.5, the next version of the Windows Phone mobile platform. Windows Phone 7.5 comes chock full of hundreds of new features and experiences designed to build on the phone’s intuitive, “people-first” foundation – multitasking, more integrated apps, primo mobile Web browsing, and powerful and personalized tools, like integrated social networking and conversation threads, for connecting with the people in our lives. Now that the update has been available for a while, we’d like to ask readers this: What’s your favorite new Windows Phone 7.5 feature? Below is a screenshot of the threading feature, which lets people see all of their exchanges with a contact in one place, including phone calls, text, instant messages and Facebook messages.

prod_wp75Threads_page

And in other Windows Phone news this week… As you may have already read, Microsoft has teamed up with nearly 40 new partners to bring live TV and video-on-demand experiences via Xbox 360 this holiday season. But the folks on the Windows Phone team wanted to make sure you saw an easy-to-miss piece of news that came out of that announcement, namely, that soon, you’ll be able to control your Xbox with your Windows Phone using the Xbox Companion App. Read this Wednesday post to get the whole story. Also, earlier this week, the Windows Phone Blog kicked off a new series called “Tip Tuesday,” a weekly tips + tricks column spotlighting some of the fun, handy and lesser-known new features of Windows Phone 7.5. Check it out.

Sharing the Microsoft 2011 Citizenship Report. We release our Citizenship Report at the same time as our Annual Financial Report to give our broad base of stakeholders a full view of Microsoft’s financial and non-financial performance. Corporate responsibility means more than returning value to shareholders – it means engaging with stakeholders to address our responsibilities in the areas of environmental, social and governance issues. We believe all corporations have, as part of their license to operate, a responsibility to contribute positively to society on a global scale. Want to learn more? Read this Tuesday post on The Official Microsoft Blog.

That’s it for this edition of Weekend Reading! Thanks for stopping by The Official Microsoft Blog and have a great weekend!

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog