Weekend Reading: Excel Goes Hollywood With the Oscars Predictor App & Windows Phone Indie Games Roundup

In this edition of Weekend Reading, we’ve got stories on making winning Oscar predictions, Windows Phone apps for business and for fun, plus a preview of multiplayer mayhem in Gears of War: Judgment.

And the winner is…you! Use the Oscars Ballot Predictor app. Don't have time to watch all the Oscar-nominated movies, but want the inside scoop on the likely winners? Try the new Oscars Ballot Predictor app, which brings a bit of Hollywood fun to Excel 2013 and gives you a competitive edge at your Oscars party. The interactive app lets you see the Oscar nominees, vote for your picks, and check out the predicted winners in each of the 24 categories. How do your predictions stack up? Get details and download links in this Wednesday post on the Office Blog. And learn more about the creator of this app, David Rothschild of Microsoft Research, in yesterday’s post on the Official Microsoft Blog.

Gears of War: Judgment – guts of gears multiplayer video. It’s time to take a look at Gears of War: Judgment multiplayer! Get a preview of some of Gears of War: Judgment’s intense multiplayer mayhem, straight from the mouth of Lt. Damon Baird. This brand new video focuses on showing some of the multiplayer game features that you’ll find in Gears of War: Judgment. Head over to Major Nelson’s post from Tuesday or catch the multiplayer action in the video below.


7 new Windows Phone indie games worth playing (February 2013). Whether you’ve dreamed of playing a disembodied all-powerful moon head or a fast-driving egg, it’s been a good month for indie games in the Windows Phone Store. Here are a few of Windows Phone blogger Michael Stroh’s favorite new or updated titles from the last few weeks. Stroh says he’d love to hear about your discoveries, and don’t forget you’ll find even more download ideas in the Store’s Next Big Thing Collection and last month’s column. The image below shows the graphically beautiful dystopia of Robotek (free) – robots have taken over and it’s up to you to win back the world for humanity. We’re all counting on you. Learn more about this great indie app and plenty of others in this Monday post on the Windows Phone Blog.

Bloomberg financial app now available to all Windows Phones. Bloomberg is a big name when it comes to financial info and business smarts, and their free app—formerly a Nokia exclusive—has just been redesigned and made available for all Windows Phones. Grab it from the Store using one of links in this Tuesday post on the Windows Phone Blog. This powerhouse app helps you track your portfolio using some of the same tools the pros rely on, providing access to the latest financial news, market data, and Bloomberg Television and Radio programs. And after confirming that your portfolio is in check, download some R&R with new Angry Birds Seasons, available now for Windows Phone 8.

Creativity in Windows 8 with Fresh Paint. In a guest post on the Windows Experience blog, Aaron Coldiron, a group manager on the Fresh Paint team, asks, “What is the future of art in the digital age?” That’s one of the questions that we’ve been inspired by as we’ve worked to develop a new experience around creativity that has blossomed into Fresh Paint – a Windows 8 painting app. On that journey to help reimagine what painting could be, many of you have tested and tried Fresh Paint; in fact, Fresh Paint has been downloaded over 1 million times. In the image below, artist “SPAZZ” (aka Mike Echlin) paints right on top of a photo image. For more Fresh Paint inspiration, including new content packs from Disney, check out this Tuesday post on the Windows Experience Blog.

A look at Autosuggest. At Bing there is no finish line, we are continuously looking for ways to improve the search experience. Sometimes the changes we make are bold and obvious, other times they are simple things that can go a long way to help you get more done. On Wednesday, we showcased a subtle change and the interaction design behind it. Specifically, we’ve made it faster to search by completing your query when we’re confident we really know what you’re looking for. To read more on Bing’s latest development and test it out, take a look at Wednesday’s post on the Bing Blog.

From Cherokee to Wolof: Preserving linguistic and cultural diversity through technology. Yesterday, one of our partners, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) celebrated International Mother Language Day, which aims to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. We wanted to take this opportunity to highlight the urgency of the situation and what Microsoft is doing to promote the use of mother tongue languages while also making technology more accessible for speakers of those languages. With the launch of Windows 8, we have added 13 extra languages to our range of Language Interface Packs (LIPs), bringing the total number of languages supported by Windows 8 and Office 365 to 108. For more this story, head to yesterday’s post on the Microsoft on the Issues blog.

High Performance Storage Solutions with Windows 8. In this Feb. 15 post, Extreme Windows blogger Gavin Gear discusses how you can optimize performance, cost, flexibility, and resiliency when building a Windows 8 storage solution. Windows 8 provides two new storage capabilities that enable optimized storage solutions based on these considerations: Storage Spaces and File History. Gear doesn’t get into the details of File History in this post, but you can read his complete write-up here. In this post, Gear uses his recent video editing PC overhaul as a case study for how to build a cost-efficient high performance storage solution on Windows 8. For the rest of the story, head over to the Extreme Windows Blog.

And just in case you missed it, Hold your own heist: Robert Kirkman's Thief of Thieves now interactive online through IE10.

Posted by Steve Wiens 
Guest Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog

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