Weekend Reading: Oct. 18th EditionWindows 8.1 is here!

18 Oct 2013 6:00 AM

In this edition of Weekend Reading, weve got stories on the release of Windows 8.1, Windows Phone 8 Update 3, Microsoft Ventures first seed investment and major app news! Check em out.
Windows 8.1 now available! Global availability of Windows 8.1 is now here, bringing a variety of new features and improvements to Windows 8 that we think people will really enjoy. We listened to customer feedback and are delivering many of the improvements weve been asked for. If youre a consumer and already have a Windows 8 device, you can now download the free update to Windows 8.1 online through the Windows Store. If youre a consumer who has a device running Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP or the Windows 8.1 Preview, visit Windows.com, which will detect your operating system and provide you with the information you need to get Windows 8.1 on your device. You can read more about it over on Blogging Windows. Also, you wont want to miss this guest post on Blogging Windows from Terry Myerson, executive vice president of Operating Systems at Microsoft, which talks about how with Windows 8.1, youll have one cohesive experience across all your devices. Also, Windows 8.1 is available to all commercial customers and partners. As Microsoft has shared before, Windows 8.1 represents a significant milestone for our business customers. It builds on our vision to offer businesses the most powerful and flexible modern operating system across devices, helps customers enable their mobile users wherever they are working, and combines that flexibility with the manageability and security IT Pros demand. You can get that story over on the Windows for your Business blog. Finally, Microsoft also announced that the Windows Store is now open for developers submitting apps targeting Windows 8.1. Check out this post on the Windows App Builder Blog for that story. Thats a screenshot of the People App for Windows 8.1 below.

Apps apps apps. Appy appy apps. It was a big week for apps, thats for sure, starting with the release of the official Facebook app for Windows 8.1. The app brings you all the familiar features youd expect, plus some cool extras that are unique to Windows. Live tile notifications give you an at-a-glance summary of post and message activity right on your Start screen. Use Facebook side-by-side with other apps and programs for easy multi-tasking. And the Windows People Hub integrates seamlessly and automatically with your Facebook contacts. Read more about it over on The Fire Hose. Then there was the update to the Bing Weather and Bing Sports apps for Windows phone 8. The Bing Weather app now supplies current snow and weather conditions at ski resorts around the world, plus weather history and additional metrics like the UV index. A few other notable changes include revamped Live Tiles displaying current conditions, wind speed, and precipitationwith a 5-day forecast on the flip side. Also, the Bing Sports app added 30 new sports including tennis, rugby, NASCAR, LPGA and Champions League soccer. The app already supplies top headlines, scores, schedules, standings and stats. Now, though, you can also track sports and players that matter to you most so the app feels a lot more personal. Read more about those two apps over on the Windows Phone Blog. Fans of AMCs hit horror program The Walking Dead can now keep up with the show via the Walking Dead app, a Windows exclusive. Fire up the app during the show and you can join fans in a live interactive experience featuring snap polls, trivia questions and exclusive video. Read more about the app over on The Fire Hose (if you dare.) Then there was the new and improved Fresh Paint app for Windows Phone 8, this weeks Staff App Pick (Front Desk Magazine for Windows) as well as Beatphonic for Windows Phone 8.

Microsoft announces Windows Phone 8 Update 3 and new Windows Phone Developer Preview. Windows Phone 8 Update 3 will roll out to existing phones over the next several months, bringing with it a bevy of improvements and new capabilities. Also announced Monday was the Windows Phone Developer Preview, which allows developers to get pre-release builds of Windows Phone updates on your dev phones before they are generally available to consumers. Some of the new features included in Windows Phone Update 3 include a bigger Start screen for more Live Tiles, a new, customizable Driving Mode and better accessibility options. For more detail on Windows Phone 8 Update 3, read Mondays post on the Windows Phone Blog. For the rest of the story on the Windows Phone Developer Preview, read Mondays post on the Windows Phone Developer Blog.

Visual Studio 2013 now available for download. On Thursday, S. Somasegar, corporate vice president of the Developer Division at Microsoft, announced that the final releases of Visual Studio 2013, .NET 4.5.1, and Team Foundation Server 2013 are now available for download. MSDN subscribers can download here.
How Bing built Smart Search for Windows 8.1. One of the coolest and most visible improvements to Windows 8.1 is its improved integration of Bing, and to give you some background on that, Blogging Windows published a guest post on Wednesday by Kieran Snyder, group program manager in the Bing User Experience team. For the behind-the-scenes story of how Smart Search took shape, how the team rethought what search could and should be, how they leveraged Bings Satori for the Windows canvas and more, head on over to Blogging Windows now.

Microsoft Ventures makes first investment: SkyGiraffe. On Tuesday, it was announced that Microsoft Ventures has made its first seed-stage investment: Tel Aviv, Israel-based SkyGiraffe. SkyGiraffe provides a SaaS platform that helps businesses deploy enterprise-grade mobile applications on any device immediately and without the need for writing code, writes Raul Sood, general manager of Microsoft Ventures, in a post over on the Microsoft Ventures Blog. For the rest if this story, head on over to the Microsoft Ventures Blog. Also, as part of its recently launched 4Afrika Initiative, Microsoft has joined forces with 88mph to support African startups, signifying the expansion of the Microsoft Ventures partnership program. As Microsofts first African accelerator partner, 88mph was chosen for its track record of helping launch and secure funding for innovative African startups. Together, Microsoft and 88mph will work to provide startups with mentorship, technology guidance, seed funding, joint selling opportunities and more. For more details, check out the press release on the Microsoft News Center.

And finally, this week on the Microsoft Facebook page, we learned how an independent filmmaker uses Surface to manage projects on the go.