Happy New Year and welcome to the first edition of Weekend Reading for 2012. In this edition, we’ve got stories on the upcoming 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show, Microsoft Flight, CodeFlow, Bing and a few others.

Catch Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s keynote at CES. You can watch Steve Ballmer’s keynote speech live from Las Vegas at 6:30 p.m. PT on Jan. 9 on the Microsoft News Center. CES is an international trade show that showcases the innovative products and technologies shaping consumer technology today. The show runs from Jan. 10 to Jan. 13. Don’t miss it!

Editor’s picks: Turning futuristic visions into reality. From revolutionizing the way we interact with computers to developing tools to speed development of cures for crippling diseases, 2011 was a year of forward-thinking breakthroughs at Microsoft. See this feature story and slide show on the Microsoft News Center for some of the innovations introduced in 2011 and how Microsoft is working to take new technologies from the lab to the living room. Below is a screenshot of Avatar Kinect, the facial recognition technology introduced for Kinect for Xbox 360 in July 2011:

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Microsoft Flight coming to Windows this spring. Xbox LIVE’s Major Nelson announced earlier this week that Microsoft Flight is coming to Windows this Spring. It will be a free download. Read this Wednesday blog post for more details on this story.

Microsoft wraps up 2011 with several Silicon Valley events. As we gear up for the year ahead, now is a good time to look back at a few signature events that took place in the San Francisco/Silicon Valley area. Many of the latest tech trends emanate from the Silicon Valley, and while Microsoft is headquartered in Redmond, Wash., it is important to keep in mind the level and length of our presence and involvement in the area. From our retail store opening at Valley Fair and events for startups to a preview of the Windows Store and a discussion on Microsoft’s cloud strategy, the company supports a broad range of initiatives in the industry and community. Microsoft has been in Silicon Valley for more than 30 years and has more than 2,400 employees in the area. Read Wednesday’s post on The Official Microsoft Blog to see the Silicon Valley wrap up.

A bar, an idea, and a garage: The story of CodeFlow. Two Microsoft developers walk into a bar, order $2 Pabst Blue Ribbon tall boys, and talk code. Similar scenes probably play out every evening in Seattle, so there was nothing remarkable about the night in January 2009 when Clark Roberts and Mike Cook met up at Sully’s Bar. But most happy hours don’t spark a project that’s used by developers in every division at Microsoft and will ship in one of the company’s major products. This one did. Intrigued? Read this feature story on the Microsoft News Center for more detail.

Bing casting call: Startups in their own words. The Bing Casting Call series is a startup video experiment. With the help of Bing’s Ted Roduner (a colleague with a camera) and master promoter Marcelo Calbucci, originator of the Seattle 2.0 Web site, we set out to capture the startup experience from the horse’s mouth. Our aim was to create a platform where startups could share, convene and learn from one another. With this in mind, we put out a call to startups who wanted to share their experiences on film. By doing the Bing Casting Call, we were able to provide startups from Seattle (who to be fair is not on our official list of startup cities for Bing Booster program, we just live here) a chance to tell their story and learn from their peers. For more on this story, read this Wednesday post on the Bing Search Blog.

Looking ahead to 2012 on Next at Microsoft. Anyone who reads the Next at Microsoft Blog knows that its editor, Steve Clayton, has his fingers to the pulse of technology both here at Microsoft and outside of Microsoft. In this Dec. 31st post, Clayton writes about what he’s most looking forward to this year in 2012. You don’t want to miss it.

That’s a wrap for this edition of Weekend Reading! Thanks for stopping by and here’s to a great 2012!

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog