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Gavin Gear, of the Extreme Windows Blog, with Panasonic’s 20-inch Toughpad 4k tablet at the Consumer Electronics Show.

In this edition of Weekend Reading, we look at some of the exciting new PCs and tablets unveiled this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the Xbox One reaching a 3 million consoles sold milestone and Microsoft announcing its agreement to acquire Parature, a leading provider of cloud-based customer engagement solutions.

At CES 2014, Windows tablets, laptops and desktops in every shape and size, including some with 4K resolution, were announced. We heard a lot about 4K TVs at the show, but two companies previewed Windows devices with 4k, in which display resolution is 4,000 pixels, about four times more than HD. Panasonic showed its 20-inch Toughpad 4K tablet, available next month, and the first 4K tablet on the market. At 5.6 pounds, it’s a great mobile choice for pros who deal with computer-aided design and video editing. At the other end of the size spectrum, it showed off its 7-inch Toughpad FZ-M1 with Windows 8.1 Pro. Meanwhile, Toshiba introduced the first 4K laptops, the Tecra W50 and the Satellite P50t, which should be on the market in the second quarter this year. Among Lenovo’s many new offerings: its ThinkPad 8, an 8-inch business tablet made from machine-cut aluminum, and a new X1 Carbon 14-inch Ultrabook, weighing 2.8 pounds with a battery life of up to nine hours. It will be available late this month. HP’s new all-in-one PCs, the ProOne 400 G1 and the HP 205, are great choices for the workplace. ASUS will be releasing a new 8-inch tablet called the VivoTab Note 8 that’s designed for one-handed use and comes with a professional Wacom digitizer stylus. Sony introduced a new member of its VAIO Fit | Flip family, the VAIO Fit 11A | Flip PC, an 11-inch version that weighs 2.82 pounds and is ideal for those who want a highly portable 2-in-1. It will be out at the end of next month.

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More than 3 million Xbox One consoles were sold to consumers in 13 countries before the end of 2013. The console went on sale Nov. 22. “It’s been incredible to see Xbox One selling at a record-setting pace for Xbox, and we were honored to see Xbox One become the fastest-selling console in the U.S. during our launch month in November,” said Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of Xbox strategy and marketing. “We’re excited for the year ahead and will be working hard to bring Xbox One to more fans and more markets around the globe.” 2014, he said, has more great games on the way for Xbox One including “Titanfall,” “Watch Dogs,” “Project Spark,” “Sunset Overdrive,” “Tom Clancy’s The Division,” “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt,” “Destiny,” “Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare,” and “The Elder Scrolls Online,” among others.

Microsoft announced it reached an agreement to acquire Parature, a leading provider of cloud-based customer engagement solutions. The acquisition will add world-class customer self-service capabilities to further accelerate the Microsoft Dynamics vision of helping organizations deliver amazing customer experiences. Parature’s technology includes functionality such as self-service customer care portals on the Web and Facebook, mobile customer care, chat capabilities and a strong knowledge base, giving their customers the ability to connect with them on the channels they prefer, wroteBob Stutz, corporate vice president of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

On Thursday, the “Lumia Black” firmware update from Nokia and Microsoft started rolling out, first to Lumia 925 and 1020 phones, with other Lumia models to follow. The update brings new features and apps to Windows Phone 8 devices, including App Folders, a Start screen feature for grouping similar apps and settings. There’s also Nokia Glance screen 2.0 to let you place up to five different types of notifications on your screen, such as phone messages, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, calendar or Outlook.

To get you ready for the Golden Globe Awards this Sunday, Bing introduced an interactive online resource center for the Globes, as well as for the Grammy and Oscar awards, Jan. 26 and March 2, respectively. Using Bing, you can get a full Hollywood fix, and all kinds of trivia that’s tweet-worthy or great for awards-night parties you might be hosting. One Grammy winner that was announced this week: the Surface, named the Official Tablet Partner of the 56th annual awards. The Surface was put to work during the Grammy nominations to power the Recording Academy’s social feeds. (Bonus: the Surface team put together an Xbox Music playlist of Grammy nominees for you.)

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WorldWide Telescope, which inspires students and astronomy enthusiasts with its interactive educational content and detailed perspective of the heavens, also reached a milestone: its fifth birthday. To celebrate, the 5.0 release was unveiled at the 223rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington, D.C. As the Microsoft Research Connections Blog explained, the newest version of WorldWide Telescope comes with powerful new features and includes access to new data sets that make planets and other solar system bodies look better than ever. You can download it for free here.

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This week on the Microsoft Facebook page – of course, it was all CES, all the time!

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That’s it for this edition of Weekend Reading. Thanks for visiting, and we’ll see you next week!

Posted by Suzanne Choney
Microsoft News Center Staff