The latest installment in the Halo franchise is available exclusively on Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 devices. Released yesterday, “Halo: Spartan Assault” is a new top-down shooter designed specifically for touch devices. The highly anticipated game features simple controls and a more casual gaming experience designed to appeal to Halo newbies as well as hardcore gamers. It’s set between “Halo 3” and “Halo 4” in the franchise’s larger storyline, and lets you play as either Commander Sarah Palmer or Spartan Davis. Learn more over on Halo Waypoint, then download the app for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 and enjoy.

Explore Microsoft’s Reliability Lab in the latest episode of On the Whiteboard.” Host Pamela Woon takes you deep inside Microsoft’s top-secret Reliability Lab, where our products undergo dozens of stress tests designed to ensure that our devices meet the highest standards for durability. In the video above, the Surface tablet is one of the Reliability Lab’s latest “victims.” Take a look and you’ll be amazed at what it can endure. Learn more over on the News Center, and watch more episodes of “On the Whiteboard” here.

Bill Gates delivered the opening keynote at the 14th annual Microsoft Research Faculty Summit this week in Redmond. Each year, the Faculty Summit brings together some of the brightest minds in computing research to share ideas. This year’s Summit featured an opening keynote from Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, who discussed how tech innovation can make the world a better place through advancements in health, education and communication. “I think it’s fair to say that we’re in a golden age of computer science,” he told the audience. Another standout session showcased Kinect’s potential as a tool for sign language recognition. Watch more videos from the Faculty Summit on the Microsoft Research site.

City of San Jose picks Office 365, Windows Azure and StorSimple for its more than 5,000 employees. The capital of Silicon Valley picked Microsoft software to help boost employee productivity, reduce operational costs and deliver improved services to over 984,000 residents. “The combination of these services supports both our long-term technology strategy and the immediate needs of our employees and residents,” said Vijay Sammeta, San Jose chief information officer. “We turned to Office 365 for secured cloud productivity, which in turn will help us lower our total cost of ownership and support a more mobile and connected workforce of the future. The combination of Windows Azure and StorSimple will enable us to streamline storage infrastructure support, which enables our people to make the shift from basic backend operations to citizen engagement and service delivery.” Learn more in the press release from Monday.

Internet Explorer takes the Web to the next level. Here’s a stat that will grab you: 3.6 million mobile devices and tablets are activated worldwide every day – more than five times the number of babies born each day! To help bridge the gap between all of those devices, the Internet Explorer team announced this week that it’s investing in a new generation of multi-screen Companion Web experiences, like this one created with photo poll service Polar. To learn more, check out this week’s Exploring IE blog post.

Microsoft and LEGO Education showcased the power of Windows 8.1 while supporting STEM with SentryBot, a small but savvy robot that always has your back. “Developed within Microsoft’s Developer and Platform Evangelism team, SentryBot represents the work Microsoft is doing with LEGO Education to engage the imagination of students, teachers and developers around the world,” Microsoft News Center reported in a feature story. Check out the story – which includes a very cool video of SentryBot in action – to learn more.

And finally, this week on the Microsoft Facebook page, we paid our respects to Doug Engelbart, inventor of the first computer mouse, who recently passed away.

That’s all for this edition of Weekend Reading. Have a great weekend!

Steve Wiens
Microsoft News Center Staff