In this edition of Weekend Reading, the Build 2013 conference showed off the Windows 8.1 Preview and a bevy of other major developments, TechEd Europe continued the momentum of Microsoft’s cloud progress and a new strategic partnership emerged with Oracle.

Microsoft’s Build 2013 conference in San Francisco delivers a deluge of previews. Build 2013 opened Wednesday to a packed house of 6,000 developers and IT professionals and gave them a free public preview of Windows 8.1, as well as the Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry Release Preview. The Surface team couldn’t wait to try out the former, so check out what they found. Also included in the Windows 8.1 Preview is a preview version of Internet Explorer 11. Also now out: the Visual Studio 2013 Preview. Build also revealed built-in 3D printing support in the Windows 8.1 update that will put “a factory on every desktop,” two new Bing apps, a redesigned Xbox Music and two new Windows Phone 8 models coming to Sprint. During his keynote, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced that Facebook, Flipboard and NFL apps will soon arrive for Windows. The conference also saw the announcement of an upcoming developer kit program aligned to the recently-announced new generation Kinect for Windows sensor and SDK refresh. Attendees didn’t just get more information at the conference; they also walked away with a free Surface Pro and 8-inch Acer Iconia W3 Windows 8 tablet. Read all about Build over on the Microsoft News Center.

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On the other side of the world, TechEd Europe also gave IT pros and developers tools to help them move forward in the cloud. Brad Anderson, corporate vice president of Windows Server & System Center at Microsoft, announced on Monday the immediate availability of preview software for Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2 and SQL Server 2014. Read more about TechEd Europe 2013 in his blog post, including how the company’s “cloud-first approach is not dependent on something we’re promising out on the horizon – but it is possible with products that are ready right now.”

New strategic partnership between Microsoft and Oracle to cover private and public clouds. In this Monday post on The Official Microsoft Blog, Satya Nadella, president of Microsoft’s Server & Tools Business, goes into detail about how two longtime competitors, partners and industry leaders are teaming up to serve enterprise customers better.

In other news around the company, Yammer reached a major milestone with its first year with Microsoft and Microsoft Ventures debuted as a coordinated global effort for startups to build, innovate and grow. On the education front, 10,000 educators attending the International Society for Technology in Education 2013 Conference received free Surface RT tablets, 34 schools and school districts have signed on to use Windows 8 in their classrooms, and Bing announced a new initiative to help schools teach digital literacy skills.

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Xbox One and Xbox 360 lead all platform nominations at the “Games Critic’s Awards: Best of E3.” Xbox Wire reported that Xbox One and Microsoft’s exclusive titles received more nominations than any other game console, with “Titanfall” becoming the most nominated game in this award’s history. In other gaming news, for 800 Microsoft Points at the Xbox Live Marketplace, trading card game enthusiasts can snap up “Magic 2014 — Duels of the Planeswalkers.”

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Besides the apps revealed at Build, there have been plenty of additions to the apposphere in the past week. Linguists might enjoy the Twitter translation update, while foodies will no doubt crave the new additions to Epicurious. The Lync Windows Store app helps those meeting on the go, and tech historians can peruse more than 4,000 videos from Microsoft Research’s new Video Library app for Windows 8. On Tuesday, the Discovery Channel, TLC and Animal Planet added new apps to the Windows Phone Store, as did Living Social on Monday.

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Thanks for joining us for another week of big news! Have a fantastic weekend.

Posted by Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff