Greetings weekend warriors! We’ve got some tasty tidbits to satisfy both the right and the left side of your brain this week. Check it out …

What do some of Microsoft’s brightest minds do in their off time? They tinker. In the Garage. Discover this sanctuary for creativity and problem solving that harkens back to Microsoft’s start-up roots in a highly illustrative, interactive piece, straight from the imagination of the Stories team.

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At Mobile World Congress this week, Joe Belfiore noted the steady growth of Windows Phone due to its “highly personal” approach to the smartphone experience. Microsoft also announced new hardware partners as part of the conference as well as plans to evolve Windows 8. Get the skinny on that and the strategy to grow and scale Windows Phone globally, here.

Microsoft can claim some credit for helping to break at least one winter game record: The largest-ever audience on an authenticated stream for any sporting event in history. More than 2.1 million people tuned in to watch NBC Sports Digital’s record-setting stream of Team USA versus Canada in the semifinal hockey game, thanks in part to Microsoft’s public cloud platform - Windows Azure. More on how Azure, Microsoft Dynamics and Enterprise Services won a place at the podium on The Official Microsoft Blog.

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Windows Azure services became available in the Japan cloud Tuesday. With demand for Windows Azure increasing significantly, Microsoft is doubling capacity every six to nine months. In Japan alone, storage usage for Windows Azure has grown 10 times in the last 15 months. Welcome to the cloud, Japan!

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We’re approaching the end of an era with support for Windows XP ending April 8. More than a decade after it was launched in 2003, Windows XP has been around since the ‘Hoff hung up his “Baywatch” board shorts. If you run Windows XP, your computer will still work come April 9, but over time, security and performance will be affected. The News Center has the details for what to expect during this transition.

Lots of apps to get excited about this week. Topping the list is a free way to watch all of your favorite sports on ESPN. WatchESPN for Windows offers live, streaming access to thousands of games and events including: Monday Night Football, the NBA regular season and playoffs, and Major League Baseball. Get ready for your Oscar night party with the Awards Show collection, which includes the E!Online app, IMDb and MTV News. Or, check out the next stage in local search evolution with the Superpages app. Spin the handy wheel and get instant access to categories like food, movies, stores and services. For a new spin on the modern “to do” list, download 2Day, which allows you to sync with your Microsoft account and add tasks by using your voice, then rearrange them into icons and colors.

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Finally, this week on the Microsoft Facebook page, we launched #ICreatedThis, a way to showcase the amazing things people create using Microsoft technology. Have a cool story to share? Tell us about it using #ICreatedThis.

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So get out there, think big, play hard and tap into your creative side this weekend. We’ll see you back here next week.

Aimee Riordan
Microsoft News Center Staff