Weekend Reading: August 23rd Edition–gamescom reveals Xbox exclusive titles and features

In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ll show you how Xbox wowed Europe at gamescom with a bevy of games and features, share the latest “On the Whiteboard” about an Oscar-winning visual effects company, and bring you a great development for Outlook.com – the worldwide availability of Skype video to take your conversations to the next level.

The Xbox team unveiled a plethora of announcements Tuesday at gamescom in Cologne, Germany – the world’s biggest gaming show – and gave countless reasons why this console is on the cutting edge. Here are a few exclusives: the “FIFA 14” Ultimate Team offering for Xbox fans, content on Xbox One from “Tom Clancy’s The Division,” and the next installment in the epic “Fable” saga – “Fable Legends.” Gamescom also revealed two “Forza Motorsport 5” race tracks, the addition of new tanks to “World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition” and Ryse: Son of Rome” multiplayer and combat features. “Dead Rising 3” and “Killer Instinct” fans also have something to look forward to! For the full list of Xbox One’s lineup of announced games, head on over to Xbox Wire. (And if you’re dying to see the Xbox One in person, you can, at Microsoft retail stores across the U.S. Xbox Wire tells you all about it.)

Gamescom also uncovered new details around an indie game developer program for Xbox One called Independent Developers @Xbox (ID@Xbox). Speaking of game development, we dove deeper into “Project Spark,” which lets players build video games as they go. Xbox Wire reports that players can now capture facial animations, body motion, voice and sound to create custom character animations, dialog or even cinematic cut scenes.

In the latest episode of “On the Whiteboard”, Editor Pamela Woon chats with Sebastian Sylwan, chief technology officer at Weta Digital, a five-time Academy Award winning visual effects company based in New Zealand, and Microsoft Research’s Curtis Wong as they go behind the scenes on some of the past decade’s most popular films.

Skype for Outlook.com is now fully available in several countries around the globe including the United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil, France, Canada and the United States. Now on Outlook.com, users can use Skype to video call with their contacts today — right from their inbox.

Microsoft’s education efforts made strides with a new widespread Bing pilot and an expanding educational opportunity for Africa’s next generation. Bing is also piloting a new, ad-free “school edition” of its search experience in several districts across the U.S. called Bing for Schools. Read Bing’s press release and blog post for more information. And from Kenya, read Ambassador Johnson Weru’s story about his country’s experience with the Microsoft 4Afrika initiative and its technology projects that provide schools and villages in rural Kenya with touch-screen tablets and broadband Internet.

Windows Phone had several highlights this week, including an in-depth breakdown of some of the new features Windows Phone 8 device owners will see in an upcoming update. The highly anticipated first game in the “Halo” franchise made for touch-based devices, “Halo: Spartan Assault,” is now available in the U.S. for all Windows Phone 8 users (see a screenshot below). There are also 17 Gameloft mobile game titles (as well as new ones for Windows 8) that will fill hours of your life – maybe even all of it if you let it. And if you’re still looking for more ways to decompress in your downtime, check out “Doodle Jump,” GroupMe, NFL Mobile and Disney Infinity: Action! If you happen to have one of the vehicles that works with the OnStar RemoteLink app, download it to unlock your doors and start your car.

And if you’re hankering for a new Windows Phone device, you can win a new Nokia Lumia 1020 if one of the photos you submit to Bing’s Hometown Homepage photography contest – open until Sept. 3 – grabs the most votes on Facebook. The Nokia Lumia 1020 is also the star of a new TV ad from the same guy who made the “The Wedding” commercial, which has had 6.25 million views on YouTube. Frequent Delta flyers will also notice that its global team of more than 19,000 flight attendants has started using Nokia Lumia 820 handsets powered by Windows Phone 8 and Microsoft Dynamics to interact with customers.

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And, this week on the Microsoft Facebook page, we got an inside look at a Microsoft employee running four simultaneous 4K displays.

That’s it for another action-packed edition of Weekend Reading. Hope everything is going right as rain (or sun) in your world. Have a great weekend.

Posted by Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff