In this edition of The Midweek Download, we’ve got stories on the engineering team behind “Halo 4”, Windows 8 apps as a business tool and Windows Phone 8 developer news and highlights from Build 2012.

Meet the ‘Halo 4’ Engineers Delivering ‘30 Seconds of Fun’. Doubtless by now, you’ve heard we launched “Halo 4” on Tuesday. But if you’re curious about how the blockbuster game was actually created, you should head on over to the Microsoft News Center and read this Q&A with the engineering team at 343 Industries, the new internal game studio at Microsoft helming the franchise.

Businesses find new opportunities with Windows 8 Apps. On the heels of the official general availability of Windows 8, the Windows for your Business blog shared a few stories from businesses that are leveraging the Windows 8 platform to develop apps to improve employee and customer experiences. Take a look at this press release on the Microsoft News Center on Monday, as well as a complementary blog post that highlights new line of business apps developed by our ISV partners. Get the rest of the story over on the Windows for your Business blog.

MDOP 2012 now available. It’s been a busy few months for us here at Microsoft – we traveled to TechEd, released some virtualization products updates and launched Windows 8 to the world. And on Nov. 1, the Windows for your Business blog added one more bit of good news by announcing that the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) 2012 is now available for download! As a quick refresher, MDOP includes six products. Its virtualization technologies help personalize the user experience, simplify application deployment and improve application compatibility with the Windows operating system, while its management technologies help to manage, monitor, deploy and repair key Windows features such as BitLocker and Group Policy. See what’s new in MDOP 2012.

That’s a wrap on Windows Phone at Build 2012. Last week was a tremendous week for Windows Phone developers, as we took the wraps off the new Windows Phone 8 developer platform by releasing the new SDK, delivering an exciting keynote presentation at Build 2012 and presenting 18 breakout sessions for developers. If you missed the event, don’t worry, every breakout session from Build 2012 is available on demand on Channel 9. For your convenience, the Windows Phone Developer Blog team put direct links to each Windows Phone session in this post.

Windows Phone 8 developer platform highlights. Last week, at the Build 2012 conference, we announced the Windows Phone 8 developer platform, the most significant enhancement to our dev platform to date. Built on a common core shared with Windows 8, the dev platform is all new – from the underlying subsystems to the APIs and tools. Because so much has changed, this Windows Phone Developer Blog post provides a short overview for each highlight, including links to additional detail to help you quickly navigate our all-new document library.

The story behind the Windows Phone 8 Start screen. In a Nov. 2 post, Josh Phillips shares the exact moment he fell in love with Windows Phone and its Start screen. “I’d just started on the engineering team here and been handed my first Windows Phone 7 prototype … I was hooked: My phone, it seemed, cared about the same people I did.” Flash forward a bit. Windows Phone 8 has arrived. For the past nine months, Josh served as the program manager responsible for driving the redesign of its Start screen. Josh began with a single question: “How can we make Start even more personal?” Head over to the Windows Phone Blog to see how it all came together.

Kinect Fusion coming to Kinect for Windows. Last week, Chris White, senior program manager for Kinect for Windows, had the privilege of giving attendees at Build 2012 a sneak peek at an unreleased Kinect for Windows tool: Kinect Fusion. Kinect Fusion was first developed as a research project at the Microsoft Research lab in Cambridge, U.K. As soon as the Kinect for Windows community saw it, they began asking us to include it in our SDK. For the rest of the story, head on over to the Kinect for Windows blog, and take a look at the video below that first got viewers so excited, shared by Next at Microsoft.

The new PowerPoint Web app. On Oct. 22, the Office Blogs team announced the release of the new Office Web Apps. Last week, the team went into a bit more in depth about the new things available in PowerPoint Web App. Microsoft packed a ton of new features into this release, all oriented around helping you be more productive. We wanted to make it super-easy to build great presentations quickly and effortlessly on the Web and with the new PowerPoint Web App you can. Take a look at the new features that will help you make knockout presentations.

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

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog