In this edition of Weekend Reading, we take a look at HTC’s masterfully designed Windows Phone 8X and 8S, Microsoft YouthSpark creating opportunities for youth across the globe, and Microsoft Hardware announcing new ergonomic, Windows 8-enabled keyboards.

Photos & Video: The Windows Phone 8X and 8S by HTC. First Samsung unveiled the ATIV S. Then Nokia lifted the curtain on the Lumia 920 and Lumia 820. On Wednesday, HTC introduced their flagship Windows Phone, the 4.3-inch, brightly colored unibody Windows Phone 8X and the 4-inch, uniquely two toned Windows Phone 8S, both of which come with Beats Audio. HTC did an incredible job of building devices that are beautiful, packed with killer specs, and feel great to use. Read about the HTC event in Terry Myerson’s post on the Windows Phone Blog and then head over to Ben Rudolph’s post for loads of photos and video of the new phones.

And in other Windows Phone news… Earlier this week, we also announced some cool new apps and games in the Windows Phone Store, including Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune, PayPal and E-Trade Mobile.

E-Trade Mobile for Windows Phone

Creating opportunities for 300 million young people in the next three years. On Thursday we announced Microsoft YouthSpark, a new company-wide initiative designed to help create new opportunities for 300 million youth in 100 countries over the next three years. We launched this initiative because we’re seeing the emergence of an opportunity divide among young people: a gap between those who are prospering and others who are struggling because they lack the education, skills and opportunities they need to succeed. The evidence is clear. Learn about the initiative in this Microsoft News Center press release and learn why Microsoft is taking this on in Microsoft General Counsel and Executive Vice President Brad Smith’s Official Microsoft Blog post, which shares the video below “A Real Spark of Change.”

Type in comfort with new Windows 8 keyboard. On Wednesday, Microsoft Hardware announced the newest member of its ergonomic lineup, the Windows 8-enabled Sculpt Comfort Keyboard. The keyboard includes a number of ergonomic features designed for maximum comfort and efficiency, including a contoured layout, a detachable padded palm rest, and a split backspace-spacebar key. Head over to this Microsoft News Center story for peek at the Sculpt Comfort keyboard and more Windows 8 hardware that’s coming soon. Below is a screenshot of the Wireless Comfort Desktop 5000.

NYFW: fashion + tech meet up with Style Coalition and Microsoft. In what he promises to be his final Next at Microsoft post covering New York Fashion Week activities, Steve Clayton said, “During the week we partnered with Style Coalition on a lounge at The Empire Hotel that was kitted out with some of the technology being discussed during the week – notably FaceCake’s Swivel virtual fitting room, a Samsung SUR40 with PixelSense running Industrial Color’s GLOBALedit application, the latest Microsoft Hardware and a selection of PCs with Windows 8 and Windows Phones.” Get a view of the intersection of fashion and technology in Steve’s Next at Microsoft blog post.

‘Kinect Sesame Street’ and ‘Kinect National Geographic’ now available. When Microsoft first introduced Kinect for Xbox 360, it offered parents an entertainment option that would get kids off the couch and encourage families to play together. This week, in partnership with Sesame Workshop and National Geographic, Microsoft takes fun, interactive experiences to a new level with the release of “Kinect Sesame Street TV” and “Kinect Nat Geo TV.” Get the backstory in this Microsoft News Center article and watch the video blog post from Get Game Smart.com.

Working with images gets simpler in the new Word. How many times have you tried to move an image or a chart in Word and gotten frustrated when it unexpectedly landed somewhere other than where it was dropped? Working with images is one of the top pain points that we hear about from customers, so in the new Word, we’ve simplified the experience with 3 great new features. Learn how to use these handy features in this quick Word Blog tutorial.

Take two Skype calls and I'll see you in the morning. In his Sept. 19 post on the Skype Workspace Blog, Ural Cebeci shines a spotlight on Skype in the medical field. Cebeci says, “It's always great to see Skype helping businesses run more efficiently and cost-effectively, but it's particularly gratifying when I learn about ways Skype plays a positive role in professions that directly impact people's health and well-being.” For the rest of the story, head over to the Skype Workspace Blog.

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

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog