In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories about the first Windows Phone from Nokia coming to the U.S., Skype, 10 new reasons to love Hotmail and MSN.

Nokia Lumia 710 coming to T-Mobile in January. Nokia’s first U.S. Windows Phone—the Lumia 710—lands at T-Mobile on Jan. 11th, the companies announced today. The Lumia 710 is a solid, no-nonsense smartphone designed to perform: It has a 3.7-inch ClearBlack WVGA touchscreen, a Qualcomm 1.4 GHz Snapdragon processor, and a 5-megapixel autofocus camera. Besides all the great new features of Windows Phone 7.5, it also comes pre-stocked with popular apps including ESPN, Netflix, The Weather Channel, Slacker Radio, T-Mobile TV, and Nokia Drive for voice-guided, turn-by-turn navigation. Read more about the Lumia 710 in this Wednesday post on the Windows Phone Blog. Also, two handy and much-anticipated new Microsoft apps for Windows Phone were headed to Marketplace this week – SkyDrive and Lync 2010. Below are two screenshots of the Lumia 710 in white and black:

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Skype in the classroom, now 20,000 members strong. On Thursday, we reached a key milestone: Skype in the Classroom has grown to a community of more than 20,000 educators who are collaborating on a wide variety of projects across the globe. To celebrate this milestone, Jennifer Caukin, head of social media at Skype, thought it would be a great idea to sit down with Tony Bates, President of the Skype Division of Microsoft, to have him elaborate more about this transformational program. To read the entire interview, read this Wednesday post on The Big Blog.

Eleven for ’11 – Frank Shaw’s favorite moments of 2011. Earlier this week, Frank Shaw, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of corporate communications, wrote this feature story on the Microsoft News Center that outlines his “favorite moments of 2011.” The story features a slide show that includes such Microsoft milestones as Windows 8 coming into focus, Nokia choosing Windows Phone over Android and the global launch of Office 365. Check it out. Below is a photo of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Nokia CEO Stephen Elop together in February when the two companies announced they will create a global mobile ecosystem, one of Microsoft’s top moments in 2011:

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Meet the team behind Windows Phone’s breakthrough design. For the past several years, the Windows Phone Shell Team has been continually improving the user interface for Windows Phones with the goal of making them incredibly intuitive and engaging to use. The team recently completed work on Windows Phone 7.5 “Mango,” the largest and most feature-rich software refresh of Microsoft’s mobile operating system to date. The “shell” refers to the phone’s core user experiences, such as the lock screen, start screen, live tiles and similar components. To meet the team, read this feature story on the Microsoft News Center.

Ten new reasons to love Hotmail. On Wednesday, we announced that all of our customers have the latest release of Hotmail, with several new features, including those that we talked about in our earlier post about fighting the war on graymail. To commemorate the announcement, the folks down on the Inside Windows Live Blog out together this list of “10 new reasons to love Hotmail”. Don’t miss it.

MSN with MSNBC.com App arrives on Xbox LIVE. Last week’s Xbox 360 update brought expanded voice control features to the Xbox LIVE service. Now, through the power of Kinect and the intelligence of Bing on Xbox, you can effortlessly search MSN with MSNBC.com content from your living room by using the sound of your voice or the wave of your hand. You can download the MSN with MSNBC.com app from the Xbox LIVE Marketplace and explore your favorite Web videos from MSN on your TV. For more details, read this Tuesday post on The MSN Blog.

Nokia and Microsoft on design. In this Wednesday post, Next at Microsoft Blog Editor Steve Clayton dives deep on the Nokia Lumia 800, calling the phone “a thing of beauty.” Included in the post is a video of Nokia and Microsoft folks explaining their inspirations for the design of the software, the hardware, and how Microsoft and Nokia came together on the Lumia 800. Check it out.

Thanks for tuning into this edition of Weekend Reading! Remember – only eight shopping days left! If you need ideas for gifts, check out the Microsoft News Center for a little inspiration.

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog