The Midweek Download: March 28th Edition–Kinect for Windows 1.5 Coming in Late May, Windows Phone SDK Gets an Update, a New Microsoft Research Blog plus Windows 8, IE10 & Windows Azure

In this edition of The Midweek Download, we’ve got stories about the impending arrival of Kinect for Windows 1.5, a Windows Phone SDK update, scaling to different screens in Windows 8 and a new Windows Theory Blog. Check ‘em out!

Kinect for Windows 1.5 on its way. Microsoft is hard at work on its Kinect for Windows 1.5 release, which will be available at the end of May. Among the most exciting new capabilities is Kinect Studio, an application that will allow developers to record, playback and debug clips of users engaging with their applications. Also coming is what we call “seated” or “10-joint” skeletal tracking, which provides the capability to track the head, neck and arms of either a seated or standing user. Also included in the 1.5 release will be four new languages for speech recognition – French, Spanish, Italian and Japanese. To get the rest of the story, read this Monday post on the Kinect for Windows Blog.

Windows Phone SDK 7.1.1 update now available. Earlier this week, Microsoft announced that the Windows Phone SDK 7.1.1 Update is now available for your download. It’s the final version of the CTP we released last month, and enables Windows Phone developers to do two things: develop apps that work well on the new 256 MB devices  and use the WPSDK 7.1 to develop on machines running Windows 8. For the rest of the story, read this Monday post on The Windows Phone Developer Blog. Also announced this week: the App Hub is now open in several new markets.

Launch options for Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 8. IE10 is a new browsing experience built in lockstep with Windows 8 to give you all the advantages that Metro style applications offer. We built that experience by extending IE’s underlying architecture to provide a fast, fully hardware accelerated browsing engine with strong security and support for HTML5 and other Web standards. IE10 also includes a desktop experience for when you are using desktop tools and wish to continue using them in your existing workflows. Read this Monday post on the IEBlog for the rest of the story. Also, check out this March 21 IEBlog post on IndexedDB updates for IE10 and Metro style apps.

Making mobile apps and the Web faster. This week begins face to face meetings at the IETF on how to approach HTTP 2.0 and improve the Internet. How the industry moves forward together on the next version of HTTP – how every application and service on the web communicates today – can positively impact user experience, operational and environmental costs, and even the battery life of the devices you carry around. As part of this discussion of HTTP 2.0, Microsoft will submit to the IETF a proposal for “HTTP Speed+Mobility.” The approach we propose focuses on all the web’s end users – emphasizing performance improvements and security while at the same time accounting for the important needs of mobile devices and applications. Read this Monday post on the Interoperability @ Microsoft Blog for the whole story.

A more natural future with technology. Individual trends such as big data, the Internet of Things and cloud computing are fascinating on their own – but over the last year it’s become clear to Next at Microsoft Editor Steve Clayton that a number of great ideas in technology are maturing and colliding at the same time and helping to fuel a singular trend we’re focused on – Natural User Interfaces, or NUI. To find out more about what Steve means, read this Tuesday post on Next.

Scaling to different screens in Windows 8. One of the core promises of the Windows platform has been its support for diverse form factors, allowing Windows to power more than a billion PCs in the market today. In Windows 8, we set out to build upon this strength by delivering a great experience regardless of the form factor or screen size. Windows 8 PCs will come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from small tablet screens to laptops and large desktop monitors and multi-monitor setups. They will also scale to different pixel densities; from that of the typical tablet to new high-definition tablets. Read this March 21 post on Building Windows 8 for the rest of the story.

New Theory Blog sets sail. Omer Reingold’s interests focus on computer-science theory. A few months ago, Reingold – a principal researcher at Microsoft Research Silicon Valley – and his lab colleagues were exploring the launching of a blog to test the theory waters. A handful of weeks later, they’re quite happy they did so, given the initial response to Windows on Theory —a name chosen for its Microsoft connection, not because the blog is focused solely on the Windows operating system. “In the next couple of months, I expect we will have posts by at least 10 different editors, and the list is growing,” says Reingold, pictured above. Read this March 21 post on Inside Microsoft Research for the whole story.

Windows Azure Community News Roundup. Check out this March 23 post on the Windows Azure Team Blog for the latest edition of the Windows Azure Community News Roundup.

That’s a wrap for this edition of The Midweek Download. Thanks for reading!

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog