Weekend Reading: September 27th Edition–Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 are here!

In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on the debut of the next-generation Surface tablets, a major development for Lync 2013 and the Department of Defense and new social networking and business intelligence tools.

The week started off with a first look at the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2. You can hear new details about the making of the Surface 2 in this interview with Panos Panay, corporate vice president of Surface. And in this episode of “On the Whiteboard” you can check out some of the new devices’ highlights. Pre-orders began Tuesday morning via www.MicrosoftStore.com, Microsoft Stores and select retailers in several countries. Skype and SkyDrive are also providing Wi-Fi and storage incentives that will help you make the most out of the new Surfaces. You can go to the Microsoft Surface Newsroom to find out everything you want to know about the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2.

A new accreditation opened the door to Department of Defense employees being able to use Microsoft Lync 2013 to connect to its information network. Achieving this level of certification classifies Lync 2013 as an advanced and secure unified communications platform – and it meant leaning on a network of partners to surpass a challenging testing environment. Becoming Joint Interoperability Test Command certified is one of the primary ways of validating software’s ability to work and interoperate on the DoD’s Defense Information Switched Network (DISN).

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Social networking resources and business intelligence solutions were also in abundance. Thanks to a round of significant updates announced in a Data Platform Insider blog post on Wednesday, data analysis and visualization features of online service Power BI for Office 365 made hefty gains that are currently available in preview versions. (Check out the image below as an example.) And as companies begin their social (networking) journeys, the Yammer team now has a new interactive toolkit with tons of resources to make the trip smoother. Helping prepare today’s youth for a future in business and tech is YouthSpark, a global initiative that aims to create opportunities for 300 million youth in more than 100 countries by 2015. On Monday, Microsoft announced it will allocate additional resources to YouthSpark as it enters its second year.

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Apps and games continue to pour into the Windows Phone Store and Windows Store, giving consumers more choices for their precious downtime. The staff app of the week gives parents the family friendly Guru PlaySchool app for Windows 8, while the App of the Week: “Angry Birds Star Wars II” for Windows Phone, appeals to kids of every age. Other potential sources for fun include: “Tetris Blitz,” “Reaper,” Songza, the latest Red Stripe Deals, adidas miCoach and “Monster Stack 3 HD.” Fans of high-end photo sharing site 500px can now experience some of the world’s best photography (like the landscape shot below) in a glossy new app for Windows 8.

Over on the Xbox front, an exclusive interview with Sean Crooks, producer from Ubisoft, shines the spotlight on “Just Dance 2014,” the latest edition of the world’s No. 1-selling dance game. If cars are more your speed, then zoom over to the “Forza Motorsport 5 Showroom” for some eye candy.

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Microsoft gave developers new tools to make their jobs easier. BrowserSwarm, a tool that helps Web developers automate how they test their JavaScript projects across devices and browsers, launched Thursday. We also provided a way to build SharePoint development environments (like the one you see below) quickly on Windows Azure. On Wednesday, the Windows Phone team released an update to the App Studio, responding to feature requests and suggestions they received from developers, including improved navigation and integration with SkyDrive.

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This week on the Microsoft Facebook page, we showed you this great collection of 13 incredible photos taken by a Windows Phone.

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And that’s it for this edition of Weekend Reading. Maybe these images will inspire you to make your own scenic memories!

Posted by Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff