Weekend Reading: Oct. 14th Edition–Microsoft Officially Welcomes Skype, Xbox 360 Stays No. 1, plus Windows Phone, Internet Explorer, Excel and MSN

This was a big week for Microsoft on the news front. We announced the close of the Skype acquisition, Xbox 360 news and plenty of other news bits for all the Microsoft news hounds out there.

Microsoft officially welcomes Skype. On Thursday, it was announced that Microsoft had closed its acquisition of Skype. “Skype is a phenomenal product and brand that is loved by hundreds of millions of people around the world,” said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in this press release on the Microsoft News Center. Tony Bates, president of the Skype Division of Microsoft, also weighed in on the deal in this Thursday post on The Official Microsoft Blog, which features a short video of Bates talking about the acquisition.

What a week for Xbox 360! Lots of big news out of Xbox 360 this week. First, Microsoft announced that the Xbox 360 continued its reign over its competitors in September and has now sold more units in the U.S. than any other console for 15 of the past 16 months. The day before, we announced that Twisted Pixel is joining the Microsoft Studios Family. Also on Wednesday, Next at Microsoft Blog Editor Steve Clayton reported that Popular Mechanics announced their 10 Most Innovative Tech Products of 2011 and the Kinect for Windows Software Development Kit was honored in the list. Also, the Kinect picked up the Gadget Of The Year Award at T3’s 2011 Gadget Awards.

And in Windows Phone news this week… The folks down at the Windows Phone Blog have been plenty busy in the weeks after the rollout of Windows Phone 7.5. In the latest Tip Tuesday post, blogger Michael Stroh offers some handy tips for using the camera on your Windows Phone. Earlier this week, Stroh also wrote this overview on Bing in Windows 7.5 that provides a laundry list of all the new and cool things you can do with Bing on your Windows 7.5 phone. And finally, the results of the latest poll on The Official Microsoft Blog are in. The poll asked: what is your favorite new Windows Phone 7.5 feature?. The answer? Intelligent multitasking, which makes it possible to run multiple apps at once, so customers can pause a game to check e-mail and then go back to where they left it. Below is a screenshot of how Bing looks in Windows Phone 7.5:

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Out of date Web browsers put you at risk. According to the latest Microsoft Security Intelligence Report Volume 11, which analyzes data from over 600 million systems in more than 100 countries, the biggest threats stem from clever “socially engineered” malware targeting outdated software, such as older Web browsers. Read this Tuesday post on the Exploring IE Blog for the rest of the story. Below is an infographic that shows the extent of the risk involved with using older browsers:

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Friends oversharing online? Call it “Digital T.M.I.” We’ve all encountered them: people who after five minutes of meeting feel compelled to tell you the vivid details of their relationship woes, family traumas or financial hardships. In one-to-one or small-group settings, such conversations make us uneasy at best. More likely, they leave us itching to slink away and find less of a “drama queen” to chat with. Want to know more? Read this Tuesday post on the Microsoft on the Issues Blog for the rest of the story.

Excel Web Apps releases new features. The Excel Web Apps team is committed to improving its products based on user feedback. Since it launched Office Web Apps just over a year ago, the team’s been listening to users, and on Oct. 7th, released new features based on what that feedback. Read this post on the Excel Blog to see what the team came up with.

Hugh Jackman kicks off the “MSN Celebrity Editor Series”. Wolverine is in the house! On Oct. 7th, the MSN team introduced the celebrity editor series. For the first time, every Friday in October and November, stars you know and love will be sharing their passions and perspectives in a special guest editor section on the MSN homepage. Hugh Jackman kicked things off as MSN’s inaugural guest editor, sharing his favorite cities for cycling, travel guides to his favorite destinations, an article on how robots inspired his new movie “Real Steel”, and a piece showcasing his passion for supporting local coffee growers. Check it out.

That’s a wrap for this edition of Weekend Reading, and what a week it’s been. Tune into The Official Microsoft Blog next week to stay up to date on the latest Microsoft news and announcements.

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog