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Archive for the ‘Microsoft’ Category

Windows XP SP3 Release Candidate Now Available

December 19th, 2007 by iDunzo

Microsoft XP SP3Microsoft has released to the public a near-final version of a major update to its Windows XP operating system.

As of early this morning, the ‘Release Candidate’ for Windows XP Service Pack 3 was available as a 336 MB download from Microsoft’s Web site. The software had previously been available only to participants in Microsoft’s official test programs.

Microsoft says it considers the Release Candidate for Windows XP SP3 to be trial software and warns users to download with caution and at their own risk.

This pre-release software is provided for testing purposes only. Microsoft does not recommend installing this software on primary or mission critical systems.

Microsoft recommends that you have a backup of your data prior to installing any pre-release software.

For the adventurous, however, Windows XP SP3 Release Candidate offers a number of enhancements over the current version of the OS. It includes all updates issued since Windows XP Service Pack 2 was released in 2004, and some new elements.

Among them: A feature called Network Access Protection that’s borrowed from the newer Windows Vista operating system. NAP automatically validates a computer’s “health,” ensuring that it’s free of bugs and viruses, before allowing it access to a network.

Windows XP SP3 also includes improved “black hole” router detection — a feature that automatically detects routers that are silently discarding packets. In XP SP3, the feature is turned on by default, according to Microsoft.

Windows XP SP 3 also steals a page from Vista’s product activation model, meaning that product keys for each copy of the operating system doesn’t need to be entered during setup.

The feature should prove popular with corporate IT managers, who often need to oversee hundreds, or even thousands, of operating system installations.

Microsoft is in a bit of a Catch-22 with XP. The more it strengthens the OS, the less reason users have to upgrade to the newer Windows Vista, which by many accounts has failed to catch on with computer users in both the home and office since it debuted in January.

A final version of Windows XP SP3 is expected to ship early 2008.

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Microsoft Rumored To Release A Windows Mobile Update

November 29th, 2007 by iDunzo

Windows MobileAlthough there aren’t many details currently available, word on the street is that Microsoft has previewed an update to its smartphone operating system, Windows Mobile 6, to the lucky few attending the annual Mobius conference.

The first report I read came from Engadget this morning, stating that it’s an “update, not an upgrade” running on existing hardware.

Manufacturers will be able to get their hands on the new software in the first quarter of next year.

Here are some of Engadget’s preliminary impressions:

Very slick, and has a lot of features that just about any WinMo user will agree is way overdue. In other words, we’re expecting users will be stoked—no doubt about it.

The updated is not Windows Mobile 7, dubbed by Microsoft as “Photon,” which is also expected to be released next year and said to be powered by Windows Embedded CE 6.0.

Sorry folks, that’s all I know for now.

Details will surface in the near future, likely at the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) taking place in Las Vegas in January.

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And How Was Your Black Friday?

November 23rd, 2007 by iDunzo

GPS units are selling for two-thirds off, digital SLR cameras are near the $500 mark and plasma TV competition is hotter than ever.

So what do people get excited about this Black Friday? A dung-colored MP3 player whose initial user experience was likened to non-elective surgery.

CNN reports that hordes in Times Square were punching each other this morning to grab the original 30 GB Zune, now at the clearout price of $80.00 USD

Umm, people? You can get ’em online for around the same price. With free shipping. And it’s still a brown Zune that will likely require some registry hacking.

Reports from elsewhere were modestly encouraging for retailers, with customer lining up in the cold for sweet deals on TVs, laptops and DVD of TV shows you probably shouldn’t have wasted hours watching the first time.

I’d like to hear from y’all. Did anyone sleeping bag it outside a big box store? Was it worth it? Why and how are you awake and reading this now?

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Will Google Android Be Windows To Apple’s iPhone?

November 14th, 2007 by iDunzo

Everyone is complaining that Google’s Android looks an a lot like the iPhone.

Well, what if that is Google’s point? What if Google hopes to do to the iPhone what Microsoft did to Apple’s first user experience breakthrough, the Mac?

Here is the Google video again, just to remind you what Android looks like:

Let’s return to the to the Android, Windows analogy.

Think about it: Apple spent a lot of time building the Mac. They proved the concept of the GUI on the desktop, but Apple never captured the desktop.

Why? Because all Microsoft had to do was step in with a lower-cost alternative that ripped off Apple’s UI and did most, but certainly not all, of the things the Mac did.

Windows has never equaled the Mac in terms of aesthetics or usability, but it never had to. It just had to be good enough.

The other reason Windows beat the Mac in the 1980s was because it was, gasp, more open than the Mac.

While Windows is far from an open platform, it is more open than Mac and Microsoft has always courted developers. As a result, Windows is the global ecosystem of applications and developers.

Google is intentionally making Android more open than its closed rival, the iPhone. Google is courting lots of developers with lots of money. Doesn’t this all seem a little familiar?

Let’s push the analogy further.

What does Google Android promise? It promises easier-to-use mobile applications on a lot of cell phones.

Doesn’t that promise sound a lot like Microsoft’s promise with Windows? Easier-to-use PCs for the mainstream?

I am sure Google doesn’t want to be compared to Microsoft, but at first glance Android sure looks like a movie we’ve seen before.

What do you think? Do you think Google plans to use Android to give the Microsoft Windows treatment to the iPhone?

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Microsoft Sync Framework: One Part Google Gears

November 5th, 2007 by iDunzo

Microsoft has released an early preview of a new programming tool known as the Microsoft Sync Framework, which looks to be one part Google Gears, with on/offline sync capabilities, and one part Time Machine-like, OS-level syncing system.

According to the documentation, the Sync Framework will allow developers to take online services and databases offline.

Microsoft says the framework can synchronize “any type of file including contacts, music, videos, images and settings.”

The Sync Framework also includes “built-in support for synchronizing relational databases, NTFS / FAT file systems, Simple Sharing Extensions for RSS/ATOM, devices and web services.”

Microsoft rather boldly claims that Sync will support “any application, any type of data, using any protocol over any network.”

But reading through the description on the Microsoft download site, it would appear that the new framework goes somewhat beyond the scope of Google Gears and enables, in addition to the offline support, various collaboration and file syncing capabilities.

Among the scenarios Microsoft notes in the documentation are multi-master file sync between multiple PCs, synchronization between PCs using a USB Drive, taking a network share offline and maintaining a backup copy of files.

At the moment the Sync Framework only supports Windows Vista, XP, Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2000 Service pack 3. It’s unclear whether Microsoft will expand that support in the future.

Microsoft has yet to release any details regarding a timeframe for the final release of Microsoft Sync Framework, though the developer preview is available for those interested in testing it.

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Microsoft Adds Free Games To Xbox 360 Consoles

October 9th, 2007 by iDunzo

Xbox 360With an eye on the upcoming holiday shopping season, Microsoft on Monday said it would bundle two video games with the Xbox 360 video game console.

By the end of the month, Xbox 360 and Xbox 360 Elite are expected to ship with Forza Motorsport 2 and Marvel Ultimate Alliance. The games have a combined retail price of $90.

Microsoft in August lowered the price of the consoles by $50 in an effort to keep pace with similar moves by rival Sony, which sells the PlayStation 3. The 20 GB Xbox 360 now sells for $350. The 120 GB Elite system retails for $450.

The U.S. price cuts followed Sony’s decision in July to lower the 60 GB version of the PlayStation 3 to $499 from $599.

While hardware pricing is important, games are the driving force behind consumers’ choice of video game console.

Among the most popular games on the Xbox is Microsoft’s sci-fi game Halo 3, which posted sales of more than $300 million in its first week on the market.

Released September 25, first day sales of Halo reached $170 million, and retailers took more than 1.7 million pre-orders — both industry records.

Nevertheless, Nintendo’s Wii has outpaced sales of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Nintendo in June sold 381,800 Wii consoles, compared with Sony’s 98,500 PlayStation 3 and Microsoft’s 198,400 Xbox 360 machines.

The holiday shopping season, which officially begins the Friday after Thanksgiving and runs to Christmas, is the biggest retail season of the year, and a time when Microsoft and its rivals make major marketing pushes for their consoles.

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