The Midweek Download: May 11th Edition – Microsoft acquires Skype and announces new Azure toolkits for iOS, Android and Windows Phone

Two significant pieces of news out of Microsoft this week and it’s only Wednesday! On Monday, the company announced Windows Azure software development toolkits for iOS, Android and Windows Phone. Just 24 hours later, it was announced that Microsoft intends to acquire Internet communications company Skype Global for $8.5 billion. To find out what else is going on at Microsoft this week, read the rest of this week’s edition of the Midweek Download.

Microsoft acquires Skype. On Tuesday, Microsoft and Skype announced that the two companies have entered into an agreement under which Microsoft will acquire Skype for $8.5 billion in cash from an investor group led by Silver Lake. The agreement has been approved by the boards of directors of both Microsoft and Skype. The acquisition will increase the accessibility of real-time video and voice communications, bringing benefits to both consumers and enterprise users and generating significant new business and revenue opportunities. The combination will extend Skype’s world-class brand and the reach of its networked platform, while enhancing Microsoft’s existing portfolio of real-time communications products and services.

New Windows Azure SDKs. On Monday, Microsoft announced Windows Azure Toolkits for Devices, consisting of assets for Windows Phone, iOS and a preview of tools for Android. Using the toolkits, developers can use the cloud to accelerate the creation of applications on the major mobile platforms. Companies, including Groupon, are taking advantage to create a unified approach to cloud-to-mobile user experience.

Thirty-five years of tech devices. Microsoft Research’s Bill Buxton had no intention of creating a museum-quality collection of technological devices. But over the course of 35 years, that’s just what happened. Buxton has accumulated hundreds of items that struck him as interesting, unusual or important to the evolution of interactive devices – watches, keyboards, mice, an electronic drum set, a 60-year-old transistor radio whose design inspired the iPod, a Nintendo Power Glove, several Etch-A-Sketches, and even the first so-called “smart” phone – controlled by a touch-screen – first shown in 1993, 14 years before smart phones exploded onto the scene. To see what else Buxton has in his collection, read this feature story on the Microsoft News Center, which has a slideshow with images of some of the devices from the collection.

More news for WP7 developers. As if the Windows Azure SDK news wasn’t enough this week, the folks over on the Windows Phone Developer Blog have been busy churning out content for the developer community. In this May 6th post, blogger Todd Brix writes about the Windows Phone app submission process and certification requirements. And in this May 9th post, blogger Brandon Watson reports on the Windows Phone team’s decision to extend its agreement with PreEmptive Solutions to provide Runtime Intelligence for Windows Phone.

Advancing the state of the art through collaboration. This week, more than 100 Microsoft staff will attend the 29th annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI) 2011. As Next at Microsoft Blog Editor Steve Clayton reports, the event brings together the leading minds in human computer interaction from academia (two-thirds of attendees) and industry. The event attracts a wide discipline of skills from the world of design, engineering, management and user experience professionals. This year’s conference adds research areas that focus on child-computer interaction, entertainment, health and sustainability. Read more about CHI here.

Building a 3D solar system with HTML5. Using HTML5, Internet Explorer Performance Manager Seth McLaughlin designed a three-dimensional visualization of our solar system, which can be seen in this May 6th post on the IEBlog. In his post, McLaughlin notes, “Internet Explorer 9 provides fully hardware accelerated rendering to the entire Web platform.” It’s cool stuff, so check it out. Also new on the IEBlog is this May 5th post summarizing a bevy of new content and resources available on MSDN that’s geared toward IE developers. Developers, don’t miss it.

Not too late to attend – or host – a Windows Azure boot camp. Developers, if you’re looking for some deep-dive training on Windows Azure, you may still be able attend a Windows Azure Boot Camp near you. Boot Camps have been going on since late last year but there are still a handful of upcoming classes. Read this May 5th post on the Windows Azure Blog to find out when and where the next available boot camps are scheduled.

That’s all she wrote for this week’s edition of the Midweek Download. See you here next Wednesday!

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog