Weekend Reading: June 22nd Edition–Microsoft Offers a Sneak Peek of Windows Phone 8

Well, we had quite a week here at Microsoft, as you may have heard. And here’s the latest edition of Weekend Reading to catch up everyone who might have missed the news. Check it out!

Announcing Windows Phone 8. It’s time to start telling you about the next exciting chapter of our mobile story: Windows Phone 8. Officially announced Wednesday in San Francisco, it’s the most advanced mobile OS Microsoft has ever made and will arrive on new phones later this year. This Wednesday post on The Windows Phone Blog from Joe Belfiore gives a high-level sneak peek at the Windows Phone 8 platform and tells you just some of what it’s going to make possible. This isn’t a full disclosure of everything in Windows Phone 8—look for a more complete tour of new features later. However, some of the new features include multi-core processor support, bigger and sharper screens, NFC wireless sharing and Wallet (which keeps debit and credit cards, coupons, boarding passes, and other important info right at your fingertips.) Below is a screenshot of the new Windows Phone 8 start screen:

WindowsPhone8StartScSet1_Page

And here’s a screenshot of the Wallet feature:

WindowsPhone8Wallet_Page

It’s been quite a week. Thanks for noticing, Gizmodo. Let’s just do a quick recap. Monday: We announce a new family of tablet PCs known as Surface. Wednesday: We give a sneak peek of Windows Phone 8. All of this follows on the heels of the big announcements we made at E3 earlier this month. And someone noticed: Gizmodo. On Thursday, tech writer Adrian Covert dubbed Microsoft “The Most Exciting Company in Tech, Hands Down.” Shucks. Thanks, guys. And just in case you missed it, below is a screenshot of a Surface tablet. Take a gander. It’s a beauty.

Surface_Gray_Page

Bing Image Search updates roll out. In the last few weeks, we’ve launched a beautiful new look for Bing search. Now, we’re rolling out the same fresh look for Image search, which makes up 7 percent of all Bing searches. Say goodbye to tiny thumbnails and hello to an endless stream of big, beautiful pictures from across the Web. Bing has always been known for its great image search, and now we’re making the whole experience even more immersive and fun. The Bing Search Blog has the full story.

Nine tips for working with SkyDrive on Windows PCs. When you install the free SkyDrive app on your computer, you can access your photos and files from almost anywhere, store them, and securely share them. And with the arrival of Windows 8 Release Preview, SkyDrive is automatically available right on the Start screen and any of your Windows 8 apps can connect directly to SkyDrive. We’ve had SkyDrive on our Windows PCs for some time now and wanted to share some of our favorite tips on ways to use it. Check out this June 15 post on Inside SkyDrive, Hotmail and Messenger for the rest of the story.

And just in case you can’t get enough Windows Phone news… Stuck in rush-hour traffic on the way home from a hard day at work and you don’t want to listen to the news? Listen to a book instead. That’s right. We said listen to a book. We’re not talking about books on tape or CD though. We’re talking about Audible, a new (and free) Windows Phone app that allows you to download books straight to your phone. (You will have to pay for book titles though.) Audible is now available in Marketplace. Speaking of Marketplace, we just passed 100,000 apps. Check out the video below, which gives you a good sense of all the great apps that are included as well as the wonder of the Live Tiles functionality.

Xbox 360 system update. The Xbox team has just released a system update for the Xbox 360 over Xbox LIVE. When you sign in to Xbox LIVE you’ll receive a prompt to accept this mandatory update. What’s in it, you ask? Behind the scenes foundational improvement that will not be visually noticeable, but will help enable an easy update this fall. Xbox LIVE’s Major Nelson has more in this June 20 blog post.

A day in the life of a Skype site operations manager. Millions upon millions of people use Skype every day, but most don’t know about the people behind the product. Here’s your chance to find out a little about what it’s like to walk a mile in a Skype employee’s shoes. Head on over to The Big Blog to read this Q&A with Kaili Kleemeeir, a site operations manager based in Estonia.

Send text messages with Office 365 and Outlook Web App. Outlook Web App, part of Office 365, provides all-in-one messaging with e-mail, voicemail and text messages. Being able to manage these different types of communication from a single inbox provides more flexibility to work the way you want to, and you’ll have access to all of your important communication from wherever you are. Head on over to the Office 365 Blog for the rest of the story, which features an instructional video.

Thanks for reading The Official Microsoft Blog! Have a great weekend!

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog