In this edition of The Midweek Download, we’ve got stories on a next-gen file system in Windows 8, the new Visual Studio Achievements program, cloud computing and highlights from the National Retail Federation’s annual conference, among others. Check ‘em out.

Building the next generation file system for Windows: ReFS. In this Monday post on Building Windows 8, Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live Division, writes, “We wanted to continue our dialog about data storage by talking about the next generation file system being introduced in Windows 8. Today, NTFS is the most widely used, advanced, and feature rich file system in broad use. But when you’re reimagining Windows, as we are for Windows 8, we don’t rest on past successes, and so with Windows 8 we are also introducing a newly engineered file system. ReFS, (which stands for Resilient File System), is built on the foundations of NTFS, so it maintains crucial compatibility while at the same time it has been architected and engineered for a new generation of storage technologies and scenarios. In Windows 8, ReFS will be introduced only as part of Windows Server 8, which is the same approach we have used for each and every file system introduction.” Jump on over to Building Windows 8 to get the rest of the story.

Visual Studio Achievements program brings gamification to development. Starting today, developers who use Microsoft Visual Studio have a new way to highlight their skills, get recognition for the amazing work they do every day, and add some competitive fun to the development day. Visual Studio Achievements, a Visual Studio plug-in, enables developers to unlock badges and compete against one another for a place on a leader board based on the code they write, its level of sophistication, and the Visual Studio capabilities they use to do so. For the rest of this story, read today’s post on The Official Microsoft Blog.

Microsoft brings the cloud down to Earth for enterprises. In an online broadcast Tuesday from Microsoft headquarters, Satya Nadella, president of Microsoft Server and Tools Business, laid out how Microsoft’s private cloud solution will help businesses move faster, save money and better compete in 2012. He highlighted how companies, such as Webcast participants Lufthansa Systems, T. Rowe Price and Unilever, can use Microsoft System Center 2012 to build and operate private clouds for the delivery of business applications across both private and public cloud platforms. System Center 2012 became available Tuesday in a Release Candidate as a single, integrated private cloud management solution for the first time. To get the rest of the story, read this press release on the Microsoft News Center and this Tuesday post on The Official Microsoft Blog from Brad Anderson, corporate vice president of the management and security division at Microsoft.

Highlights from the National Retail Federation’s annual conference. At the National Retail Federation’s annual conference on Monday, Microsoft announced the upcoming release of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 for Retail, which will provide midsize and enterprise retailers with an end-to-end solution that includes cross-channel capabilities, social and mobile commerce, enriched point of sale (POS), and powerful enhancements for merchandising. Read this press release for more detail. And for more from the NRF’s annual conference, read this feature story on the Microsoft News Center focused on how Intelligent Systems help retailers operate more efficiently and open new opportunities.

Windows Phone 2011 Retrospective. Windows Phone developers, if you’re curious to see how far the platform has come in the last year, don’t miss this infographic on the Windows Phone Blog, which touches upon the number of apps in Marketplace, customer interest and developer interest, among other things.

Controlling selection with CSS user-select. IE10 Platform Preview 4 includes support for a new CSS property, -ms-user-select, which makes it easier for Web developers to control exactly what text can be selected on their websites. Selecting text on the Internet is important in many other scenarios. To get the rest of the story, read this Jan. 11 post on the IEBlog.

Windows Azure Community News Roundup. Just in cased you missed it, here is the second edition of the Windows Azure Blog’s community news roundup, featuring stories on cloud computing, security, Node.JS and other topics.

Windows 8 and the future of XAML. The Silverlight Blog kicked off a series of articles on Jan. 12 focused on Windows 8 and how XAML developers will need to adapt to the new platform. Check it out.

That’s it for this edition of The Midweek Download! Thanks for stopping by The Official Microsoft Blog!

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog