Weekend Reading: Dec. 2nd Edition–MSR Helps Tackle HIV, a Historic Week for Xbox plus Bing’s Top 2011 Searches, MSN, Windows Phone & More

With Thanksgiving and Black Friday over, the holiday season is now in full swing. Here’s a little Weekend Reading for you in between trips to the mall – or your favorite online stores.

Microsoft Research: How fighting e-mail spam helps the search for an HIV vaccine. Helping tackle some of the most urgent global challenges is firmly on the agenda for Microsoft Research (MSR) – applying our experience, our depth and breadth of expertise, our partnerships and the power of software to tackle these challenges. More than 1.8 million people die of HIV-related causes each year — approximately 5,000 deaths per day. One of the great challenges in fighting HIV is that the virus is constantly mutating to avoid attack by the immune system. That’s where David Heckerman and Jonathan Carlson of Microsoft Research along with a Microsoft Computational Biology Tool called PhyloD come in. This software enables efficient data mining which then leads to specific cell analysis that helps detail virus patterns for further analysis. To get the rest of this story, which features a short video, read this Thursday post on the Next at Microsoft Blog.

Xbox 360 sells nearly 1M consoles in biggest week in Xbox history. Entering the seventh year of its lifecycle, Xbox 360 just closed the biggest sales week in the history of the hit digital entertainment system, selling more than 960,000 consoles in the U.S. during the week of Black Friday. Also, more than 750,000 Kinect for Xbox 360 sensors were sold in the U.S. – standalone and bundled. Read this Tuesday post on The Official Microsoft Blog for the rest of the story.

And in Bing news this week…  What do pop superstar Justin Bieber, new duchess Kate Middleton, and consumer electronics king Xbox have in common? No, they’re not all part of a wildly anticipated Hollywood sci-fi flick (at least not yet); they were some of the most popular search terms typed this past year on Bing. On Monday, the Bing team released its annual report of the year’s most-searched people, news stories, places, events and more. Microsoft aggregated billions of search queries to come up with a barometer of what most captured Americans’ attention in 2011. The complete report is available at http://www.BingTrends.com. For more details, read this feature story on the Microsoft News Center. Also, earlier this week, Bing unveiled the first-ever Bing Magical Holiday Calendar, offering eligible visitors a month of free offers, sweepstakes and inspiration to make this holiday uniquely special.

New Xbox LIVE games on Windows Phone. Here’s a variety of new Xbox Live games for Windows Phone that have touched down in the Marketplace this week: Ghostscape, Shuffle Party and Farm Frenzy 2. Read this Wednesday post on the Windows Phone Blog for a complete breakdown on the three games. Also, check out this Tip Tuesday post that shows you how to express yourself using Windows Phone’s built-in “emoji.” That’s Japanese for emoticons.

MSN Top Stocks gets a refresh. On Tuesday, MSN updated the Top Stocks site with a new look, new writers and a new emphasis on connecting with our readers. MSN added dozens of new voices, including Gene Marcial, who brings his must-read Inside Wall Street column (previously a staple of BusinessWeek magazine) to Top Stocks exclusively twice a week. Along with Gene, Top Stocks now boasts some of the top investing columnists on the Web, including Jim Jubak, Jim Cramer, Kim Peterson and Anthony Mirhaydari. Read this post on the MSN Blog for the rest of the story.

Microsoft joins European Commission’s CEO Coalition on Child Online Safety. On Thursday, European Union Commissioner Neelie Kroes announced the formation of the ‘CEO Coalition on Child Online Safety.’ Microsoft is pleased to be a founding member of this coalition, which is a collective effort of government and industry to discuss best practices that “make the Internet a better place for children.” To read more about the coalition and the company’s involvement, read this post on the Microsoft on the Issues Blog.

Glad everyone survived Black Friday, and thanks for stopping by The Official Microsoft Blog. Have a great weekend!

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog