As we race towards the cocktail hour, we want to say thanks for sticking with us throughout the day. It’s time for our ever-enduring weekly roundup of Microsoft news and intrigue. And as always, there is no way that we are going to be able to cram the week’s news into this small space, so the archives are there for you to use.

For this week’s question, let us know in the comments if you are attending CES, and if so, are heading to the Nokia event. If so, TNW will see you there. Now, follow our Microsoft channel on Twitter, and Facebook, and let’s get into the news.

Xbox

It has been confirmed by yet another party that at this year’s E3 event, Microsoft will show off the next Xbox console. The Xbox 360, while the bestselling machine in the market, has aged, and has perhaps lasted longer than was expected when it was first introduced. Little is known about the coming device, except that it’s arrival is all but imminent and that it should be out for the holiday sales cycle.

In other Xbox news, it looks like Microsoft is working to bring Xbox LIVE functionality, similar to what Windows Phone currently has, to both iOS and Android. This was less hard to see coming than it is surprising, which is low on its own. We expect more leaked information about this to come forward in the next few months.

Also this week, Microsoft made changes to the rules that indie Xbox games have to follow, making development for the console easier.

Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer 6 is all but dead in many markets, some of which are what we might deem ‘leading.’ From our report: “the browser has dipped under 1% in the US, following similar usage patterns in Austria, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway.” At last, the scourge is almost over.

Or is it? As it turns out, we ran a short analysis and came to the conclusion that the remaining power in Windows XP (more on that later) will force usage of Internet Explorer 8 to stay high for the forseeable future. Why is that? It’s due to the simple fact that Internet Explorer 9 does not support XP. Given that IE8 is not even half the browser that IE9 is, the simple implication here is that IE will break the web for some time to come.

The Ace

Remember that pesky Nokia Lumia 900 handset that we covered so often? Yeah, it’s actually the ‘Ace,’ a modified Lumia 800 that supports LTE. From our previous coverage:

Good news friends and allies, we have set to rest (mostly) one of the more persnickety situations that we have been dealing with in recent days: What’s the deal with the Nokia Lumia 900 and Ace handsets? New information out today confirms what we deduced, that they are in fact the same handset. This lays to rest much speculation and intrigue.

The Ace, an LTE enabled handset that is headed for the US market, will land on AT&T early this year. Nokia is expected to announce its existence at CES, and provide new information as to its formal launch date. Also out today, and via PocketNow, are the purported specs for the Ace (we’re going to stop saying Lumia 900 from here on out, except to remind readers on the occasion that the two phones are in fact the same).

And that’s that. Case closed. No Lumia 900 for the US market. I would not give up on the name, however, if you live in Europe.

Windows 7

What is happening in the world of Windows 7 that warrants our notice? Simply that it is racing to overtake Windows XP as the world’s most popular operating system. We ran all the numbers, and came to the quite specific conclusion that on April 19th, Windows 7 should match XP, and overtake it on April 20th, provided that things stay roughly the same.

Of course, Windows 8 is all but around the corner, but even Microsoft is still pushing hard on the Windows 7 front; it simply sells too well to not keep the pressure up.

And finally, Microsoft is cutting back on the booze. You can cry in the any corner of your choosing.