Weekend Reading: March 2nd Edition–The Windows 8 Consumer Preview is Here, Windows Phone and Skype News from Mobile World Congress, plus MSN Editions & Xbox 360

It’s been a big week for Microsoft on numerous fronts. In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories about the Windows 8 consumer preview, Windows Phone and Skype news from Mobile World Congress, plus Bing, MSN and a new Xbox 360 bundle. Check ‘em out!

Microsoft announces Windows 8 consumer preview. The Windows 8 Consumer Preview offers a more robust experience for testing the world’s most popular operating system and is available to the widest range of people yet following the initial release of the Windows 8 Developer Preview late last year. The Developer Preview received more than 3 million downloads. For more on this story, read this press release on the Microsoft News Center and this Wednesday post on The Windows Experience Blog. And for a deeper dive on how the Windows 8 consumer preview touches other parts of Microsoft, check out these Wednesday posts on The Bing Search Blog and Xbox LIVE’s Major Nelson. Below, Antoine Leblond, Corporate Vice President, Windows Web Services, shows off new Metro style apps in the Windows Store as part of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview event in Barcelona on Wednesday:

Windows 8 - PRESENTATION - BARCELONA

2012 Spring Break Fareology Forecast: Airfare Up 4 percent from 2011. Spring is in the air and spring break is around the corner. For those of you who haven’t locked down your getaway plans, we’ve enlisted the Fareologists at Bing Travel to help. The team has scoured millions of round-trip itineraries to give you the lowdown on the spring travel landscape as well as tips on how you can break away without breaking the bank. Read this Wednesday post on The Bing Search Blog for the highlights.

Windows Phone and Skype make a splash at Mobile World Congress. Earlier this week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Microsoft announced two big pieces of news – the availability of a beta version of a Skype for Windows Phone app and plans to bring its smartphones to a host of new countries by expanding hardware and language support. Also, a new line of low-cost phones, which use cheaper “system-on-a-chip” processers and reduced memory, will bring a high-end smartphone experience to more affordable devices – while still running nearly all the applications available in the Windows Phone Marketplace. For more on this news, read this feature story on the Microsoft News Center. If you want to dig deeper into the Skype for Windows Phone news, check out this Feb. 26 post on The Big Blog and this Tuesday post on The Windows Phone Blog that provides tips on using the new Skype beta app. Take a gander at the screenshot of the Skype for Windows Phone beta app below:

02-27SkypeCall_lg

And in other Windows Phone news this week… If you’re a fan of messaging apps, take a look at the updated GroupMe for Windows Phone 7.5, which just hit the Marketplace today. GroupMe is a free group messaging service that lets you stay in touch with people through group texting and more. The refreshed app—version 3.0—now allows you to message multiple friends or contacts at once and share photos across a group of people. Read this Tuesday post on the Windows Phone Blog for more detail. And in this Feb. 24 post, Next at Microsoft Editor Steve Clayton profiles Timelapse Pro, a “simple yet powerful little application creates an animated GIF from a series of photos.”

Get more of what you Like with MSN Editions. Do you want more of your favorite content on the MSN homepage? MSN has always provided up-to-the-minute news, sports, entertainment and other information to keep you in the know. But you may be more interested in one category. You may come to get caught up on the latest news, others may come to see the latest sports headlines, while still others are looking for the hottest celebrity gossip or other topics. That’s why we’ve created MSN Editions: new customized homepages that give you an extra dose of the topic you’re most interested in. For more on this story, read this Thursday post on The MSN Blog. Below is a screenshot of MSN Editions:

MSN Editions

Announcing the Xbox 360 Special Edition 4GB Kinect Family Bundle. Earlier this week, we announced the Xbox 360 Special Edition 4GB Kinect Family Bundle. This limited edition bundle includes a glossy white Xbox 360 4GB console, glossy white Kinect sensor, white Xbox 360 wireless controller and a copy of two of the most popular Kinect tiles: Kinect Sports and Kinect Adventures as well as a three month subscription to Xbox LIVE Gold and will be available while supplies last for US $ 299.99. Read this Wednesday post on Xbox LIVE’s Major Nelson for the rest of the story. That’s the new bundle pictured below:

Xbox Kinect Family Bundle

That’s it for this edition of Weekend Reading! Thanks for stopping by The Official Microsoft Blog!

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog