Weekend Reading, March 22nd edition­ – Batman, Pandora and United Join Windows Phone App Family

In this week’s edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on Microsoft Research being recognized by Computerworld, the arrival of Pandora on Windows Phone, an update to the Kinect for Windows SDK and a shark with a taste for ducks.

Pandora is here. Let there be rock. And punk, and blues and whatever else you groove to. Because Pandora, one of the world’s most famous Internet radio apps arrived Thursday to Windows Phone 8. The free Pandora app is not only ad-free through Dec. 31, but has features not found on any other smartphone. Pandora for Windows Phone is the only version with a Live Tile showing what’s playing at a glance. It’s also the only version that provides direct, one-tap access from the Start screen to your favorite personalized radio stations. Read the entire story on the Windows Phone Blog.

“Gears of War: Judgment” in stores. The long wait for fans of “Gears of War” is over. The latest installment of the award-winning franchise hit stores just after midnight on Tuesday. Developed exclusively for Xbox 360, “Gears of War: Judgment” immerses fans in the most riveting and challenging “Gears” game yet, with explosive new multiplayer modes and an epic-scale campaign that takes you back to the immediate aftermath of Emergence Day – the defining event of the “Gears of War” universe. Read this post on The Official Microsoft Blog to get the entire story.

Gears of War Picture

Computerworld salutes Microsoft Research. On Tuesday, two projects by Microsoft Research Connections were named 2013 IDG’s Computerworld Honors Program Laureates. The Computerworld Honors program, founded in 1988, recognizes organizations and individuals who have used information technology to promote positive social, economic and educational change. The program judges reviewed more than 700 nominations this year to select 269 Laureates from 29 countries. Microsoft Research received recognition for its work with the University of Oxford to help maximize the effectiveness of pneumonia vaccines on children and with the Massachusetts General Hospital to create an effective HIV immunization agent. Read the whole story on the Microsoft Research Connections blog.

Other major Windows Phone 8 app releases: United Airlines’ official app for Windows Phone 8 touched down in the Store on Thursday. The app makes it easier to get straight to where you want to go: reserve and book flights, check in, get your boarding pass, change or upgrade your seat, access maps of airport terminals worldwide, even play Sudoku while you’re aboard. Live Tiles let you pin specific reservation and flight information to your Start screen and flight status and gate information can be pushed to your lock screen. Read more about it over on The Windows Phone Blog. Also new this week in the games department: “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Shark Dash”.

United Airlines Screen shot

Kinect for Windows SDK updated. The Kinect for Windows team has been hard at work on improving since the release of the Kinect for Windows SDK v.1. All of that work paid off in a fine-tuned Kinect interaction experience. According to this post on Next at Microsoft, the camera now has the ability to discern between an open and closed hand and to recognize different hand gestures. This opens the door to a whole new realm of interactive possibilities, like being able to “grip” an image or three-dimensional object and manipulate it, or use a simple push motion to select a button.

Windows Embedded 8 generally available. Microsoft announced Wednesday the general availability of the Windows Embedded 8 family of operating systems. Extending Windows 8 technologies to a spectrum of edge devices, Windows Embedded 8 helps enterprises capitalize on the Internet of Things with the platform to capture, analyze and act on valuable data across IT infrastructures. Read the whole story over on the Microsoft News Center.

Windows 7 SP1 on Windows Update. As of Tuesday, Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) started rolling out automatically on Windows Update. Updating customers to Windows 7 SP1 is part of an ongoing effort to ensure continued support and improved security updates for customers who have not yet installed SP1. Windows 7 SP1 was previously available on Windows Update but required user action to install. Now, however, the installation is automatic with no user action required for those who already have Automatic Update enabled. Read more on Blogging Windows.

That’s a wrap for this edition of Weekend Reading… Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog