In this edition of The Midweek Download, we’ve got stories on some interesting uses of Kinect for Windows and Surface, Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate and Microsoft Research.

Kinect head tracking with a transparent display. Next at Microsoft Editor Steve Clayton recently stumbled across the work of Second Story, a creative agency based out of Portland, Ore. that builds interactive experiences. What led him to them is their outstanding work using two Microsoft technologies in particular – Kinect and Surface 2.0. Read this Tuesday post on Next at Microsoft for the full story and don’t forget to check out the video below. Also, be sure not to miss this May 30 post on Next about a French duo that captures the world in 3D with Kinect for Windows.

Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate now available. We reached another important milestone on the road to the final release of the cloud optimized OS: Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate (RC) is available now for download and evaluation. If you haven’t yet started exploring the wide range of new features and capabilities, this new pre-release version is an ideal time to begin. With nearly 300,000 downloads to date of the beta release, the excitement around this new Windows Server is unprecedented. Head on over to the Windows Server Blog to get the rest of the story.

Web browsing in Windows 8 Release Preview with IE10. We built a new browsing experience in lockstep with Windows 8 to give you all the advantages that Metro style apps offer. We built that experience by extending IE’s underlying architecture to provide a fast, fully hardware-accelerated browsing engine with strong security and support for HTML5 and other web standards. For more on this story, read this June 1 post on Building Windows 8 and this May 31 post on the IEBlog. Also, don’t miss this Tuesday post on Building Windows 8 about the work in Windows 8 Release Preview supporting IPv6. Finally, be sure to check out this May 31 post on Windows for Your Business Blog to find out what businesses need to know about Windows 8 Release Preview.

The friendly faces of Microsoft Research in Asia. “We envision a world in which mobile devices—phones, tablets, sensors—become more and more ubiquitous,” says Qiufeng Yin, a software development engineer at MSR’s Beijing-based lab. “We hope to make such devices more human-friendly. They can be personalized to a user, and the face is another important, though underutilized, area for interaction, in addition to voice and touch.” That’s the rationale behind the beta version of the Microsoft Research Face Software Development Kit (SDK), now available for download. Incorporating the latest face technologies from Microsoft Research, the SDK enables engineers to develop face-based applications for Windows Phone. Read this Monday blog post on Inside Microsoft Research to find out more.

Legacy DX filters removed from IE10 Release Preview. Internet Explorer’s commitment to achieving the goal of consistent “same markup, same results” across browsers is evidenced, in part, by IE9’s and IE10’s addition of CSS3 features that enable websites to move to standards-based features for their graphical effects. Earlier we wrote that Internet Explorer’s legacy visual filters and transitions, first introduced in IE4, are not supported in IE10’s Standards and Quirks modes and noted their inferior performance compared to their standards-based replacements. Based on further analysis of these filters’ performance and their very low usage on the public Web, Internet Explorer 10 in Windows 8 Release Preview removes them from all document modes for all sites in the Internet zone. The features remain available in IE10’s document modes 5, 7, 8, and 9 for sites in the Local Intranet and Trusted Sizes zones. Read this Monday post on the IEBlog for the rest of the story.

MongoDB Experts video series. MS Open Tech is pleased to announce a new series of videos on Channel 9 that covers MongoDB topics for developers working on Windows Azure and Windows. Each video in the series features insights from one of the MongoDB experts at 10gen, the leader in MongoDB development, support, training and consulting. The first three videos in the series have been posted, and more are coming soon. Check out this June 1 post on the Interoperability @ Microsoft Blog to see what’s been covered in the first videos in the series.

Windows Azure Community News Roundup. Be sure to read the most recent edition of our weekly roundup of the latest community-driven news, content and conversations about cloud computing and Windows Azure. You can find the highlights over on the Windows Azure Blog.

Our eight best tutorials on Excel charts. Everyone needs a refresher every once in a while, right? Excel spreadsheets are all about numbers. But tons of numbers are often not the most effective way to communicate. That's where charts come in handy. Charts can display numeric data in a graphical format, making it easy to understand large quantities of data and the relationships among data. If you want to learn about Excel charts, you've come to the right place. We've pulled together our best tutorials and articles on charts to get you started. Head on over to the Excel Blog to see what the tutorials have to offer.

That’s a wrap for this edition of The Midweek Download! Thanks for reading!

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog