Weekend Reading: Nov. 1st Edition–Diving deeper into Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2

In this extra-spooky edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on what went into creating the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, the introduction of Microsoft Stories and OneNote celebrating its 10th anniversary.

Since the Oct. 21 launch of the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, they’ve been getting a lot of attention in the press. Each day this week, the Surface Blog posted a video from the Sept. 23 Surface 2 announce event in New York City to give you deeper dives into what went into making these next-gen tablets. In the one shown below, Stevie Bathiche, Microsoft distinguished scientist and head of the Applied Sciences team at Microsoft, talks about the refinements to Touch Cover 2 – the much-talked-about accessory for Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2. Also interesting was finding out why Ralf Groene, who leads the industrial and interaction design teams for Surface devices, compared the creation of Surface 2 to a ping pong game. Finally, we saw how artists are taking advantage of the Surface Pen, which comes pre-installed with the new devices.

On Thursday, we saw the introduction of Microsoft Stories: behind-the-scenes stories about the people, places and ideas that move us. The first profile focuses on Andrew Kim, who was a third-year design student when one of his professors gave him this assignment: Reinvent the Popsicle. But Kim handed in “The Next Microsoft” – a bold and comprehensive redesign of the entire Microsoft brand, from Office to Surface.

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In October, OneNote celebrated 10 years making life more organized. The OneNote Blog posted several videos that showed how professionals – such as Milwaukee Brewers announcer Joe Block – and other folks, like those planning a wedding, have incorporated the note-taking app into their lives. The one below seems fitting with the Halloween happenings this week, as it showcases the screenwriting siblings responsible for “The Conjuring.”

In other Microsoft news, we saw communication between persons who are deaf and those who aren’t using Kinect, IE11’s call to developers, and the enhancement of the Employee Giving Program. Microsoft Research showed us how Kinect can be the bridge between folks who don’t speak the same language – and even those who can hear and those who can’t. A collaboration between Microsoft Research Asia, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Beijing Union University, has created a prototype that translates sign language into spoken language— and spoken language into sign language — in real time. The Internet Explorer team has issued a call to developers who can show them they can get 11 percent better page load performance from their sites using IE11 for Windows 8.1 – with prizes, including free pizza. And if you’re interested in helping charities with donations before the end of the year, Microsoft has enhanced its Employee Giving Program to raise the next billion for nonprofits.

The Xbox world reverberated with news of mind-blowing cars, new trailers and freebies. On Wednesday, new cars from Audi, Mazda, Ford and Honda rolled into the Forza Motorsport 5 Showroom. “Forza Motorsport 5” fans might especially appreciate the Ariel Atom 500 V8, a long-awaited dream come true. (See the image below to see why.) Hotrods will also enjoy driving Aaron Paul’s signature Ford Mustang GT in the upcoming game “Need for Speed Rivals.” Also on Wednesday, Xbox Wire reported that “Titanfall” will be exclusive to Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC for the lifetime of the title. “Dead Rising 3” will be out Nov. 22, only for Xbox One, which launches the same day, and a new trailer will send shivers down your spine. “Halo: Spartan Assault” will be available in December for Xbox One and Xbox 360. Until then, trailers like this one for “Ryse: Son of Rome,” released Monday, will whet the appetite. It’s one trailer where a viewer’s interest is not going to trail off. This snapshot look at the game is heart-pounding, drama-to-the-hilt good. Also, the “Call of Duty: Ghosts” official trailer shows a new Extinction mode. And, if you’re in need of something to play sooner, try “Kinect Sports Rivals” free starting Nov. 22.

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Windows Phone apps ran the gamut from Nokia classics to the latest bargains. The App of the Week: “Snake” for Windows Phone brings back an old favorite (as you can see from the screenshot below), while Staff App Pick: Wordament gives wordsmiths a chance to flex their skills. We also saw a major update to messaging app Viber, “Stack Rabbit” game from Disney, which is free and new to the Windows Store. Also, don’t miss the latest Red Stripe Deals, which includes “Skulls of the Shogun” — an epic confrontation between dead samurais battling it out in the afterlife.

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This week on the Microsoft Facebook page, we celebrated Windows 8.1 with ten new Windows themes.

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And that’s it for this edition of Weekend Reading. Hope you had more treats than tricks for Halloween and enjoy your extra hour Sunday. See you next week!

Posted by Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff