Weekend Reading: June 21 Edition— Cannes Lions, digital ads and Windows 8, oh my

In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ll take you to sunny France for the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, introduce a new Web series, highlight some breakthrough work from Microsoft Research and more.

Microsoft Advertising ushers in innovative approaches at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. On Sunday, this week-long advertising bonanza commenced, and Microsoft joined 11,000 delegates attending from more than 90 countries – the biggest ever showing – to celebrate the event’s 60th anniversary. Each year, the advertising industry gathers to learn from the best and celebrate innovative marketing – and Microsoft emerged early on as a leader. Read this post by Natasha Hritzuk about how Microsoft Advertising used consumers’ ideas to “co-create” new concepts of digital advertising’s future. And Andy Hart, vice president of Advertising & Online Europe, wrote a blog post about the thinking behind that approach – and what it means for the advertising industry. The festival also saw the unveiling of new ad prototypes for Windows 8. Check out the daily updates from Microsoft Advertising’s blog, where you can find the videos and interviews with modern day Mad Men. The Festival’s lineup, social media connections and photos are on their Cannes Lions microsite.

New Web series explores the intersection between technology and culture. In the first episode of Microsoft’s “On the Whiteboard,” Editor Pamela Woon chats with two-time Oscar winner Randy Thom about the importance of sound in human-technology interactions. Thom, the lead sound designer at Skywalker Ranch who worked on films such as “The Incredibles,” “Castaway” and “Forrest Gump,” says that people rarely consider the significance of those signature sounds that come from devices such as cellphones, computers or tablets. Check out the first installment of “On the Whiteboard” below and then head on over to the Microsoft News Center to learn more in this feature story.

Microsoft Research had a big week. On Tuesday, FUSE Labs, creator of Socl (pronounced “social”), released four new experiences that make it even easier for people to express and share ideas online. Socl now has Picotale (a super speedy way to generate memes), collages built from a combination of personal images and Web content, Video Party (produce video playlists and chat about them) and a space to share BLINKs. Read Next at Microsoft Editor Steve Clayton’s post on Next and a feature story from Microsoft Research to find out more about Socl and BLINK.

Windows Phone’s voice recognition now faster, more accurate. Bing’s voice recognition features on Windows Phone are now twice as fast and 15 percent more accurate, thanks to breakthrough work from Microsoft Research.Read more on Inside Microsoft Research and the Windows Phone Blog.

And in Xbox news this week… Xbox 360 maintained its position as the top console in the U.S. last month, selling more units than any other platform, according to new data from The NPD Group. May marked the 29th consecutive month that Xbox 360 was the best-selling console in the U.S. Zombie fans snapped up more than half a million downloads of “State of Decay” to make it the fastest selling original game on Xbox Live Arcade. Gamers looking for discounts can check out Gameloft sales and Red Stripe Deals at the Windows Phone Store. Also new this week: a Disney app for Xbox 360, sneak preview screen shots of The Lost Relics, a new map pack for “Gears of War: Judgment” for VIP Season Pass holders, and a “World of Tanks Xbox 360 Edition” beta program.

If you’re in the mood for amusing TV, check out this story about “The Awesomes,” the brainchild of SNL alum producer Michael Shoemaker and Seth Meyers, which will come to Xbox Live members on July 25, a week earlier than the official Aug. 1 release date. Or, watch late night talk show host Jimmy Fallon flex his Xbox One skills on “Killer Instinct” and “Forza Motorsport 5” in the video below.

Also, the Xbox team announced Wednesday that they listened to customers, and as a result, they’re making some big updates to Xbox One, including not requiring an Internet connection to play offline Xbox One games. You can read more about the updates in this post on Xbox Wire from IEB President Don Mattrick. For more Xbox 360 and Xbox One news, head over to Xbox Wire.

More apps continue to populate the Windows 8 Store. On the Windows Blog, Chief Evangelist for Windows Steve Guggenheimer highlighted seven popular new apps that emerged on the Store this week, including music video app VEVO and social video mashup service Vyclone. Also, Windows Experience Blog writer David S. checked in with his 13-year-old daughter and she gave a young teen’s list of Windows Store must-haves, including Samurai vs. Zombies Defense. And over on Windows Phone 8, mobile users can use the free CoPilot GPS to prevent geo-confusion.

Hope you enjoyed this edition of Weekend Reading! Have a wonderful weekend!

Posted by Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff