In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on how Google scans the contents of personal emails to target ads, a look at the gorgeous new 4Afrika Windows 8 phone from Huawei, plus a special show of Windows 8 “supermodel” devices in honor of Fashion Week.

Surface blog launches. Panos Panay, general manager of Microsoft Surface, pens the inaugural post of the Surface blog, which launched yesterday. He writes, “I’m pumped for the team to have this new space to share information with you as we continue to tell the stories behind what makes Surface such an amazing family of products. We’ll tell our stories and share the latest Surface news. I’m also excited to have some of my colleagues share the hard work they’ve put into creating a family of devices and accessories that continue to help you have both fun and get more done.” Check out Panay’s complete post on the Surface Blog. Pictured below is the Surface Windows 8 Pro, available tomorrow.

Don’t get Scroogled by Gmail. On Wednesday Outlook.com launched Don’t Get Scroogled by Gmail, a national campaign to educate Americans about Google’s practice of going through the contents of all Gmail emails to sell and target ads. According to a public GfK Roper study commissioned by Microsoft Corp., 70 percent of consumers don’t know that major email providers routinely engage in the practice of reading through their personal email to sell ads. Want to know if you’re getting Scroogled? Take a look at this press release on the Microsoft News Center to find out. When you’re done there, Bing shares more reasons to give Google the boot: Let Bing Show You the Love This Valentine’s Day.

Huawei unveils a new Windows Phone for Africa. Microsoft and Huawei on Monday unveiled a new Windows Phone designed specifically for Africa, one of the most rapidly-growing technology markets in the world. The phone, called the Huawei 4Afrika, is pictured below and is the first in a series of smart devices being custom developed for the continent and released as part of Microsoft’s sweeping new 4Afrika Initiative, which also kicked off on Monday. (Check out this blog post and website for more details.) Designed specifically as an affordable option for students, small businesses, developers and first-time smartphone owners, the Huawei 4Afrika with Windows Phone 8 will make its debut later this month in seven countries. For more on the Huawei 4Afrika phone, head over to this Monday post on the Windows Phone Blog.

Presenting more than performance: the 2013 Windows 8 device lineup. This week the catwalk lights up once again as Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week returns to New York City. The 2013 Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 devices present a go-anywhere look with clean lines reminiscent of high fashion, matched by inventive features that meet the customer’s need for constant connectivity, mobility and flexibility. Equipped with brilliant touch-sensitive screens, blazing processors and the latest Windows 8 apps, these devices on this year’s virtual catwalk are built for superior performance, yet show off remarkable design. So turn down the lights, turn up the music and take in this new experience. Pictured below is the HP ENVY x2.

Eyes wide open: New Microsoft Research photo app helps prevent missed shots. Capturing great action shots—or just about anything involving kids—is tricky on any camera. Savvy photographers toting fancy-pants DSLRs typically boost their odds of success using burst mode, which automatically snaps multiple photos faster than any human could press the shutter button. Now Microsoft Research has brought this capability to Windows Phone 8 in a free (and cutely named) app called BLINK, which just arrived in the Windows Phone Store. Download it now. Get the rest of the story in Tuesday’s post on the Windows Phone Blog and see BLINK in action in the video below, courtesy of the Inside Microsoft Research blog.

Now in the Store: KooZac, a popular puzzler. Last month Michael Stroh of the Windows Phone Blog spotlighted some addictive puzzle games for your phone. Here’s one more for the list: KooZac ($2.99), a popular and award-winning title billed as a mash up of Tetris and Sudoku, just released under the Xbox LIVE banner on Wednesday. Try or buy it now. The goal of KooZac is to line up falling numbered blocks so they add up to a target sum. When you do, the blocks disappear and you score points. Stroh says he sees this game as a stealth way to improve his kid’s addition skills. For more on KooZac, head over to the Wednesday post on the Windows Phone Blog.

Top Office 365 questions answered. On Jan. 29, Office 365 Home Premium launched worldwide, giving busy people and families new ways to get more done at home, at school and on the go. From customer events in New York, Sao Paulo, Toronto, London and other major cities around the globe, as well as via social media, we've received a few common questions about what is included in Office 365 Home Premium and the fastest ways to get started with the new service. Clint Patterson of the Office team answers some the top questions in Tuesday’s post on the Office Blog. You might also want to check out the free Office 2013 Quick Start Guides released by the Office team.

Thanks to solar energy, Microsoft provides broadband access to rural Kenya. On Monday, Microsoft announced a public-private collaboration that will deliver low-cost, off-the-grid wireless broadband access to previously unserved locations in rural Kenya—and will do it with the help of solar power.

To deliver broadband to rural locations, the project taps into unused portions of wireless spectrum in the television frequency band—it turns out these so-called “white spaces” are a perfect fit for broadband. Watch the video below of the Mawingu White Space Broadband Project that was shared on the Microsoft on the Issues Blog. For more on this story, head over to Tuesday’s post on the Microsoft Green Blog.

Download this video

And just in case you missed it, read about the Microsoft and Symantec takedown of the Bamital botnet.

Have a great weekend!

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog