In this edition of The Midweek Download, we’ve got stories from Building Windows 8, Internet Explorer, Windows Phone and a few others. Don’t miss ‘em.

And now, these messages from Building Windows 8. If you’re looking for the latest word on Windows 8, look no further than the Building Windows 8 blog. In the past week, the blog has published three new posts you don’t want to miss – Dec. 14th’s “Protecting your digital identity”, Dec. 16th’s “Signing in with a picture password” and Monday’s “Optimizing picture password security”. Check ‘em out.

Sound and sound reproduction: a conversation with Gareth Jones. In this Dec. 16th post, Next at Microsoft Blog Editor Steve Clayton highlights the third in a series of beautiful videos from Microsoft UK’s developer evangelism team. Gareth Jones is a record producer who has worked with Depeche Mode and Erasure. In this 5-minute film, he talks about how he hears the world, the loudness war and offers up some advice on how to produce sounds that work well on small speakers of the kind we have in modern mobile phones.

Anyone can build a Messenger client—with open standards access via XMPP. We’ve previously talked about the principles that guide us as we strive to continue delivering the most convenient ways to chat with the people who matter the most to you. Now, we’re taking another step, with the public availability of access to the Messenger network via XMPP, an open standard. This means that anyone can build innovative messaging clients—either stand-alone or built into their devices—that include access to Messenger’s 300 million active users. To get the rest of this story, read this Dec. 14th post on the Inside Windows Live Blog.

Interoperable HTML5 quirks mode in IE10. The fourth IE10 platform preview includes enhanced HTML5 support by using an interoperable quirks mode based on the behavior defined in HTML5. This HTML5-based quirks mode is the default quirks mode in IE10. Users and Web developers want sites to just work across browsers. A key part of this is making HTML, CSS, and JavaScript work in the same way across implementations. For more on this story, read this Dec. 14th post on the IEBlog. Also, just in case you missed it, the IEBlog recently got an updated look. Finally, check out this new holiday-themed HTML5 experience from the IEBlog team.

Full support for PhoneGap on Windows Phone is now complete. The latest release of PhoneGap for Windows Phone is now available. This release includes many new features, and you can find more details here. We’re also pleased to note that all features in PhoneGap 1.3 are now supported for Windows Phone, as you can see on their site here. For the rest of this story, read this Dec. 16th post on the Interoperability @ Microsoft Blog.

Intelligent systems taking hold in retail, healthcare and manufacturing. Cities are a tangible, large-scale example of the intelligent systems that Microsoft began discussing with IDC, Intel and others a few months ago. And since then, the company has detailed its product road map for Windows Embedded and a related shift in how it approaches software development. Intelligent systems are one of the key enablers for making a city “smarter,” made possible by embedding Internet-enabled devices into virtually every aspect of a city — utilities, streets, office towers, houses and cars, to name a few. For more detail, read this feature story on the Microsoft News Center.

That’s it for this edition of The Midweek Download. Thanks for reading!

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog