Weekend Reading: Aug. 19th Edition–The Future of the Living Room Entertainment, Xbox LIVE on Windows Phone, plus Hotmail and Internet Explorer

In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on Microsoft’s vision for the future of the living room, Xbox LIVE features coming to Windows Phone, Hotmail and even a Microsoft employee who built a thermonuclear reactor in his garage in an attempt to inspire a passion for science in high school students.

The future of the living room. Earlier this week, Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Corporate Communications Frank Shaw blogged about Microsoft’s vision for the future of the living room and digital entertainment. “All the entertainment you want, with the people you care about, made easy…” is how Shaw summed up the company’s philosophy on the way people will (and to a certain extent, already do) consume the “ever-growing avalanche of TV shows, sports programming, movies, online videos, video games, music and more.” Don’t miss the 2-minute “Future of the Living Room” video that brings this vision to life.

New Xbox LIVE features, games on the way for Windows Phone. Earlier this week, Microsoft previewed new Xbox LIVE titles and features coming to Windows Phone in the months ahead. The announcement came at the annual Gamescom conference in Cologne, Germany. We’ve already written about some of the changes on the way for the Games Hub in Mango, the next release of Windows Phone. But at Gamescom today members of the Xbox team outlined several other exciting capabilities coming this fall. Visit the Xbox press room for details or this Tuesday post on the Windows Phone Blog for a quick recap.

Microsoft employee – “Mr. Fusion” – helps students build a nuclear reactor. Let’s face it. Inspiring a passion for science in high school students isn’t always easy. But that’s just what Microsoft employee Carl Greninger has managed to do. How? How else? He showed them how to build a thermonuclear reactor…in his garage! And yes, it’s perfectly safe. The students have shown off their machine at the Microsoft Research Science Fair, and they recently were invited to the World Science Festival in New York by physicist Brian Greene. To get the details on this fascinating project, read this feature story on the Microsoft News Center.

The data we use to build Hotmail. Last year, we shared some data about the behavior patterns of people using email. We found that we could group them neatly into three types based on their behavior—Filers, Pilers, and Deleters (we previously used the term “Purgers” instead of “Deleters,” but decided on a nicer term). One of the comments on that blog post said, “I am VERY happy you guys look into this kind of behavior, it must certainly be important when designing future uses of the product,” which was a nice comment and also true—we have, indeed, used this data over the past several months to create many of our new features. We thought it would be fun to share a behind-the-scenes look at some of the features we’ve released based on that data. To see what the Hotmail team came up with, read this Monday post on the Inside Windows Live Blog.

Microsoft’s Garage – Hyderabad Style. Earlier this week, Next at Microsoft Blog Editor Steve Clayton profiled a number of interesting places here at Microsoft, including the Hyderabad Garage in India. Like the Garage on the Redmond campus, the Hyderabad Garage is a place where, as Clayton reports, “following your creative hunches is the rule and volcanoes still explode at science fairs.” To read more about the Hyderabad Garage, read this Wednesday post on the Next at Microsoft Blog.

Internet Explorer 9 leads malware protection…again. NSS Labs, an independent security research and testing organization, released two reports on Monday that show SmartScreen continues to offer industry-leading protection against socially engineered malware. According to the global test conducted by NSS, “IE9 caught an exceptional 96% of the live threats with SmartScreen URL reputation, and an additional 3.2% with Application Reputation.” To get the rest of this story, read this post on the Exploring IE Blog.

That’s it for this edition of Weekend Reading. Thanks for stopping by!

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog