Weekend Reading: Nov. 18th Edition–Facebook to Facebook Calls Come to Skype, Xbox 360 Teams Up with the NFL, plus Surface, Bing, Windows Phone and MSN

In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories about Skype and Facebook, Xbox 360 teaming up with the NFL, massive growth in Microsoft’s Live@edu cloud service and much, much more!

Skype and Facebook – so happy together! Back in July, Facebook video calling powered by Skype was launched. On Thursday, we announced our partnership with Facebook has reached yet another milestone with the launch of Skype 5.4 Beta for Mac and Skype 5.7 Beta for Windows allowing you to conduct a Facebook-to-Facebook call from within Skype. This new development in the Skype-Facebook partnership is the latest example of how Skype is removing communication barriers and making it easier to connect with friends, family and business colleagues. For more on this story, read this Thursday blog post from Skype, which features a short video.

What a week for Xbox 360! It’s been one heck of a week for Xbox 360. Last Friday, it was announced that Xbox 360 continued its reign as the number one video-game console in the U.S. Then, on Tuesday, Microsoft celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the Xbox, noting the hit console’s many milestones in this feature story and slideshow on the Microsoft News Center. Finally, on Thursday, Microsoft and the National Football League announced a multiyear sponsorship that makes Xbox 360 the official console sponsor of the NFL and NFL PLAY 60. Xbox 360 will work with the NFL’s youth health and wellness program, NFL PLAY 60, to help teach kids the importance of a healthy and active lifestyle while having fun with Kinect for Xbox 360.

New version of Surface now available for retailers. A second, more retail-friendly version of Microsoft Surface is now available for pre-order in 23 countries. Earlier this week, Popular Science named the Samsung SUR40 a 2011 “Best of What’s New” award recipient. Read this feature story on the Microsoft News Center for more detail. Below is a screenshot of the Samsung SUR40:

11-17Surface_lg

Live@edu tops 22M users, grows 100 percent year over year. On Wednesday, Microsoft announced that more than 22 million people now use Live@edu, representing a 100 percent year-over-year increase. In addition, we also announced several new schools using Live@edu, including U.S. institutions such as Southern State Community College in Ohio, New Mexico State, Florida State, University of Colorado at Boulder; Kings College London and Royal National College for the Blind, located in the United Kingdom; the Bahrain Ministry of Education and the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Education in the Middle East. For the rest of the story, read this post on The Official Microsoft Blog.

Introducing Bing Editors’ Picks: a guide to great sites. Looking for travel tips or great food blogs? Or, maybe you need to know the best place to get advice on party planning. We all start with search to find answers to these questions, but with so many websites out there, knowing which ones are worth your time can be challenging. That’s why we’re launching Bing Editors’ Picks. Editors’ Picks were designed to enhance Bing results by bringing editorially selected sites to your search experience. Our goal, whether delivered by algorithm or by editors, is to help you find what you’re looking for faster and to get stuff done. Read this Monday post on the Bing Search Blog for more detail.

The ultimate women’s app is here for Windows Phone, iPhone and iPad. Whether you are in a relationship or single, working at the office or running the household – we know you’re busy. That’s why we’ve built MSN Onpoint. Designed with women in mind, MSN Onpoint combines the best of women’s lifestyle content from MSN and couples it with the power and convenience of Bing, creating a great way to access the content you want while you’re on the go. Check out the screenshot of the Onpoint app below:

MSN Onpoint

Ten reasons to switch to Hotmail if you use Outlook. We hear often from Outlook users that they “live” every day in the product, and that they like to be able to manage both their work and personal e-mail accounts in one place. The Outlook Hotmail Connector lets them do this easily. Our shared customers can use Hotmail as a free, personal cloud service for Outlook side by side with the Exchange-based or other e-mail accounts they use for work. So why is Hotmail best for Outlook users? Read this Tuesday post on the Inside Windows Live Blog to find out.

The latest poll results are in! On Nov. 7th, we asked readers what they thought was the coolest non-gaming application of the Kinect technology. Leading the way with 32 percent of the vote was Tedesys, a startup in Spain working on an application that will let doctors use the Kinect sensor while operating on patients. You can find the poll results on The Official Microsoft Blog. And don’t forget to vote in this week’s poll asking which Windows Phone you intend to buy this holiday season. The poll closes on Monday, so you only have a few days left to vote!

That’s it for this edition of Weekend Reading. Thanks for stopping by and have a great Thanksgiving!

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog