Weekend Reading: June 10th Edition–Microsoft announces new Xbox LIVE games for Windows Phone at E3, plus Bing, MSN, Windows Live and Sir Richard Branson

Lots of news out of Microsoft this week, and not all of it was related to the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3).

Some highlights: Microsoft pledged $25 million over five years to a new education initiative in Washington State, acquired Prodiance and announced new social capabilities in Bing for Mobile.

Fresh from E3: Xbox LIVE enhancements and new games for Windows Phone. On Tuesday, Microsoft announced some new Xbox LIVE functionality coming in the release of Windows Phone code-named Mango, in addition to some awesome new game titles such as “Beards and Beaks,” “Hasta la Muerte,” “Top Gun” and “Splinter Cell.” Also, Windows Phone users will soon find an update to the Xbox LIVE Extras app – this is the new Avatar Marketplace! Now, you have more options to customize your Avatar with a wide range of props and clothing right on your phone. For a complete wrap up on all the news out of E3, read this Tuesday post on the Official Microsoft Blog.

Windows Phone “Mango” and SkyDrive. Microsoft is committed to offering cloud services that deliver access to your information across devices and platforms. Hotmail provides sync of mail, calendar and contacts across devices, and SkyDrive gives you access to up to 25GB of documents, photos, and videos from anywhere in the world through the Web. Read this Wednesday post on the Inside Windows Live Blog and this piece on Winrumors on improvements to SkyDrive Microsoft is making for the next version of the Windows Phone mobile platform, dubbed “Mango.”

Bing for Mobile Browse gets more social. On Wednesday, Microsoft unveiled an update to Bing for Mobile Browse (m.bing.com), which includes a number of new features to help people make faster, more informed decisions while on the go. The updates make it easier to share on Facebook, access news, see local listings and directions in one view, reference past searches and view trending topics. Read this post on the Bing Search Blog for a closer look at some of the new features.

Microsoft to acquire Prodiance. Spreadsheets and data are key to many organizations’ operations, yet they are oftentimes created in uncontrolled environments. On Tuesday, Microsoft took another step in helping customers mitigate this risk and improve data compliance and control. The company has acquired Prodiance, a leading provider of Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) software. Prodiance is a valued Microsoft partner and the company will now become a wholly-owned subsidiary. The acquisition of Prodiance enables deeper integration of compliance-related solutions into future versions of Office and SharePoint. Check out this post on the Office Blog for more details.

Microsoft and Boeing team up on education in Washington state. On Monday, Washington State Gov. Chris Gregoire signed important legislation creating the new public-private Washington Opportunity Scholarship, an innovative approach to attracting new funding to help stabilize our higher education system and increase the number of Washington students earning bachelor’s degrees. To help launch this new program, Microsoft and The Boeing Co. pledged $25 million apiece over the next five years to the effort. Read this Microsoft on the Issues Blog post by Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith for the whole story.

MSN Mobile launches refreshed video experience. MSN recently rolled out major updates to the MSN Video channel on MSN Mobile, making it easier to discover and watch videos while on the go. The updated MSN mobile channel is supported by all major mobile platforms including Windows Phone 7, iOS devices and Android 2. Updates include improved video playback and access to a vast collection of videos across a breadth of categories – including viral, sports and celebrities – that are updated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Read this Wednesday post on the MSN Blog for the rest of the story.

Sir Richard Branson headlines Worldwide Partner Conference. Microsoft announced Thursday that Sir Richard Branson, founder and president of Virgin Group will address an estimated 15,000 attendees at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference on July 13, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Read this Thursday blog post by Jon Roskill, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Group, for additional detail.

The U.S. Innovative Education Forum. Microsoft announced Thursday the selection of 72 additional educators to attend the 2011 Microsoft U.S. Innovative Education Forum (IEF). These second-round finalists will join the previously announced finalists traveling to the Microsoft campus in Redmond in July to showcase the creative ways they are using technology in the classroom. This year, Microsoft Partners in Learning saw a record number of submissions from teachers transforming their classroom curriculum using technology. Also, earlier this week, Microsoft’s senior director of U.S. Partners in Learning, Andrew Ko, wrote this Microsoft on the Issues Blog post on how teachers are using technology to fight bullying.

Thanks for stopping by the Microsoft News Center for this edition of Weekend Reading. See you back here next week!

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog