Weekend Reading: March 16th Edition–Learn the Ways of the Force with Kinect Star Wars, Explore the Galaxy with NUIverse, plus Internet Explorer & Bing

This edition of Weekend Reading is a sci-fi fan’s dream. We’ve got stories on the upcoming “Kinect Star Wars” game, a really cool Microsoft Technology Center project called NUIverse and a humorous look at the burgeoning popularity of Internet Explorer 9. Don’t miss ‘em!

“I find your lack of faith disturbing…” If this commercial for the April 3 release of “Kinect Star Wars” doesn’t get you pumped up to learn The Ways of the Force, nothing will. And don’t mess with this kid. She’s fierce. Oh, and Clint Howard is hilarious.

Who are the world’s most ethical companies? The Ethisphere Institute, an international think-tank focused on the creation, advancement and sharing of best practices in business ethics, corporate social responsibility, anti-corruption and sustainability has published their sixth annual list of the World’s Most Ethical Companies. The list includes six companies in the computer software category: Adobe Systems, Microsoft, Salesforce.com, Symantec Corporation, Teradata Corporation, and Wipro Ltd; and two companies in the computer hardware category: Hitachi Data Systems and Intel Corporation. Read this Thursday post on The Microsoft Citizenship Blog for the whole story.

“So say we all!” The folks down at the Microsoft Technology Center have been busy with Surface 2.0. In this Wednesday post, Next at Microsoft Editor Steve Clayton reports, “In this video, David Brown from the MTC demonstrates an application called NUIVerse that is an appropriate play on the word universe. It brings a very natural user interface to exploring the universe. Fast and fluid? Oh yes…” Not to minimize the importance of the MTC’s work, but if you pay real close attention to the video, you’ll catch a glimpse of an Imperial Star Destroyer around the 6:30 mark and the Battlestar Galactica around the 9 minute mark.

A new look for Pushpins, Popups and Transit. We’ve just rolled out some exciting new updates to www.bing.com/maps that make it easier for you to find information on the map, explore the layouts of over 850 venues, as well as get to where you’re going with public transit (or transport). Check out this Wednesday post on the Bing Search Blog for more detail.

Former Sony exec to join Microsoft. On Tuesday, Microsoft announced that Phil Harrison, video games luminary and former Sony executive, has joined the Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB) leadership team as corporate vice president with an emphasis on growing the division’s European business. Read this post on Xbox LIVE’s Major Nelson for the rest of the story.

The browser you loved to hate. One of the more interesting trends these days is the number of Chrome and Firefox enthusiasts who have “added” Internet Explorer 9 into their browsing mix. While still using Chrome or Firefox for their more general browsing, these users are pinning a few of the key sites they visit every day – like Facebook and Pandora – with IE9 simply to get a more “app” like experience. It’s happening so often now that we decided to put up a small Tumblr to help others see how IE9 is fueling IE’s comeback, poke a little fun at ourselves, and encourage those that haven’t checked us out recently to “add” an IE9 pinned site to their Windows 7 taskbar. Check out this Thursday post on the Exploring IE Blog for the whole story.

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

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog