In this edition of Weekend Reading, employees achieve historic giving campaign milestone, the new Microsoft Surface – inside and out, and Xbox news: from Xbox Music to Internet Explorer on Xbox to the presidential elections.

All about Surface. Next at Microsoft Editor Steve Clayton says to check out the updated Surface site. The “learn more” section details the specs, materials, display tech and more. Optical bonding, 22 degree kick stand, device walls that measure just 0.65mm, a Touch Cover that’s just 3mm thin and weighs less than half a pound. Get the scoop and specs in Steve’s Wednesday post, and even more scoop in Some questions, and answers about Surface, plus two great videos to watch: The making of Microsoft Surface, featuring the design team behind Surface, and a Learn more about Surface demo video.

A billion ways to make a difference. October is the time when employees on our Redmond campus and in offices across the U.S. unleash their creativity and passion to raise funds for nonprofit and community organizations in their home towns and around the world. This year is our 30th Employee Giving Campaign and on Thursday we announced that our U.S. employees have raised $1 billion in cash for more than 31,000 nonprofit and community organizations since the start of the campaign. Read more about this milestone at Microsoft News Center and in this Official Microsoft Blog post from Chief People Officer Lisa Brummel and Executive Vice President and General Counsel Brad Smith.

IE comes to the living room with Xbox. On Monday, the Xbox team announced an update to the Xbox 360 dashboard that marks the beginning of some exciting stuff on the biggest screen in the house. Internet Explorer has come to Xbox 360. Internet Explorer began rolling out on Xbox LIVE on Tuesday and will be available to Xbox LIVE Gold members. IE on Xbox enables you to view content on the Web on your TV and includes great features like the ability to personalize your dashboard by pinning your favorite websites and watching HTML5 videos on the Web. Head over to the Exploring IE blog for more of the story. Below is a screenshot of IE10 on Xbox.

Xbox LIVE Election Channel poll results from the second U.S. presidential debate. Following the U.S. presidential debate Tuesday night that was carried on Xbox, Major Nelson thought you’d like to see the following data from the interactive polling that was conducted on Xbox LIVE:

  • More than 100,000 Xbox LIVE community members engaged in the second presidential debate, responding to approximately 70 polling questions in real time.
  • There were well more than 2 million individual responses to poll questions.
  • Most poll questions averaged 35,000 to 40,000 respondents per question.

See poll results on Major Nelson’s blog and weigh in on the final debate via the Xbox LIVE Election Channel on Oct. 22.

Learn to fight online fraud during Cyber Awareness Month. Lottery scams, advance-fee fraud, phishing attacks and fake anti-virus alerts. These are just a few ways criminals are attempting to gain access to your personal information to steal money, and impersonate you or hijack your good name. On average, adults in the U.S. have been exposed to eight different types of online scams, according to a new Microsoft survey. Learn to better protect yourself and fight back during National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM). Learn more about Cyber Awareness month, including the top five most common scams encountered by adults in the U.S. in this Microsoft on the Issues post.

Xbox 360 holiday bundles + limited time US$50 off promotion. Available now, national retailers including Best Buy, GameStop, Amazon, Target, Toys ‘R Us and Walmart, will carry Xbox 360 holiday console bundles, which include Xbox 360 hardware, games as well as one free month of Xbox LIVE Gold, Hulu Plus and EPIX. Get the details from Major Nelson.

Microsoft Research aiding brain-tumor patients. Microsoft Research is home to a lot of expertise in the fields of machine learning and computer vision – the kind of technology you find in Kinect amongst other things. In this Next at Microsoft post, Editor Steve Clayton says, “So wWext at Microsoft Editor Steve Clayton says, "ext. ampaign hen I read about those two technologies being used to aid brain tumor patients, I was somewhat intrigued. A few weeks back my colleague Rob Knies wrote a fascinating post over on the Microsoft Research site that explains all.” Learn all about this technology in Rob Knies’ original post or read Steve’s abbreviated explanation right here.

The new IMAP in Outlook 2013. IMAP is an important protocol for many of Outlook’s customers, and we’ve heard from many of you that Outlook’s IMAP support is not at the level of quality that you expect from a product like Outlook. We heard your feedback, and this release we made a significant investment in IMAP. Read on to see what improvements we've made in Outlook 2013. Take a look at what you'll see with IMAP in Outlook 2013 on the Outlook blog.

And in case you missed it earlier this week…

Bringing music to the masses: Xbox Music and Microsoft announces Surface pricing and availability.

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