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Category Archives: Microsoft

I am right on the heals of hearing Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs, wrap up this years WWDC keynote. I have to say that while the keynote didn’t introduce any big-ticket items that some Mac fans were looking for, I think it was what everyone realistically thought would happen. The biggest and most pleasant surprise came right out of the gate when EA Games announced that it will be bringing some of its most popular titles to the Mac, including EA Sports favorites starting in August. Steve continued on into Leopard, and like last year, showed 10 new features coming in the new version of OS X. He unveiled the sleek new desktop and finder, which all appear to be big gains; but, both are more or less eye candy. A new previewing feature called Quick look was introduced and that also looks very nice. Beyond that, nothing ‘new’ was really shown about Leopard. Steve Jobs re-outlined the features shown at last year’s WWDC.

Once the 10 features were covered, Jobs announced that Apple’s Safari has grown to nearly 5% of the browser market share. Furthermore, Apple plans to port Safari fully over to Windows XP/Vista. This should be very interesting and Steve announced that a beta of Safari 3 for Windows and OS X Tiger will be available today via

Finally, ‘one more thing …’

Apple announced that it will open developers to the iPhone via Safari. Meaning that developers will be able to develop applications for iPhone using the latest in web standards within iPhone’s Safari browser. This news proved to be unpleasing to most developers, who wanted all out control to develop more client style apps for Apple’s much anticipated phone.

I will post more on this soon as possible but so far, this keynote is exactly what many expected. Sure, the games and Safari news was a surprised, but both are definite positives for Apple. While developers appear to be unpleased, I think it is not a decision that Apple wanted to make but had to because of AT&T. Much like Apple is puppeted with iTunes and DRM. Steve Jobs is all about healthy partnerships and he knows that forcing too much can hurt those partnerships. Apple also realizes that web development is a hot thing right now and is really where things are headed. So, this development move does not surprise or even upset me.


I just finished talking with some family who have come to visit. They came by and noticed that I had recently switched to a Mac and was asking me about the pros and cons to owning and operating a Mac. Being just casual users, I was quite surprised at the complexity of their questions that most users would not even think about. In ending the conversation at the time, I finished with the idea that I do still use Windows on my Mac since I have an Intel iMac and basically said that both have its advantages and disadvantages and that for me OS X and the Mac suits me better. I began thinking later, however, about the idea of how important the Operating System of a computer really is and how important (or unimportant) it will be in the coming years. As online products evolve, such as the free online services Google provides, the need for typical desktop applications will decline. I am already using an online word processor, spreadsheet, calendar, and RSS reader. Because of the services, I am able to go anywhere, on anyone’s computer and use the services I want with the settings I have set. So, as you use Windows, Linux or OS X machines, remember that they will never be as important for the average user as they once were. Will traditional operating systems die? No way, there are still definite advantages for power users and content creators. However, to the one who wishes to just email, read news, and share photos, the operating system will become ever more transparent.

“Show Us Your ‘Wow’” is the marketing slogan used earlier this week as Microsoft unveiled the latest release to its popular Windows operating system, called Windows Vista. Windows Vista is the latest operating system update since Windows XP was released in 2001. It promises many upgrades as well as new features from its predecessor. Though Microsoft has just released its new crown jewel to the public, I have been using test versions of Windows Vista for several months. While what I’ve been using is not the finished product, I can tell you what I do know about Windows Vista and the noteworthy features that it entails.

The first difference you will notice is the change in the overall look and feel to Windows. Don’t worry; there is still a task bar at the bottom and a start button. The difference is quickly seen when you open a window. Instead of the blue, silver, or green themes that users have become accustomed to in XP, Vista sports a new and sleek transparent look. Microsoft is calling this visual feature “Aero Glass.” While it is tough to describe how it looks, it is very sleek. The start menu has also been refreshed; remember the days of ongoing menus that would spawn across your screen the second you clicked on “All Programs” in the start menu? Those days are over; now when you click on “All Programs”, your list of programs is neatly refreshed inside of the start menu. Click “All Programs” again and you return back to your normal Start Menu. On top of the new appearance, Microsoft has added simplicity to the overall system. Changing or altering any aspect of the system is far more seamless than in past versions of Windows. This is just a small piece of the new visual changes that Vista includes.

Windows Vista is more than just a slew of new looks and flashy design. Microsoft has added many new functional features and new bundled software. The first of these new programs that you will see is Windows Sidebar. Windows Sidebar is a program that sits on the very right of your screen and houses ‘mini-programs’ that provide small, yet useful, bits of information at any time you need it. These ‘mini-programs’, or Gadgets as Microsoft has named them, include everything from calendars to the weather, and even the latest news headlines of your choice. This feature alone will dramatically affect how you access information that is important to you. Microsoft is also changing the way you view and manage your digital media such as music, movies and photos. Windows Media Player has been updated, and a new program called Windows DVD Maker has been added, which allows you to create professional looking DVDs. Also added to the mix of media-oriented programs is Windows Photo Gallery. This program allows you to view, manage, and even enhance your digital photos. All of these new programs provide a simple, easy to use interface that still packs in plenty of features.

Despite all of these new sleek and powerful features, Microsoft managed to make Windows Vista very, and I mean very, fast. One of the coolest new performance features in Windows Vista is called ReadyBoost. ReadyBoost allows you to plug in a USB thumb drive and use the memory on the thumb drive to boost your computer’s system memory, increasing speed and performance. This comes at a cost; it has since been learned that only the latest and fastest thumb drives will work. If you want all the bells and whistles that Vista has to offer, you might find yourself needing to upgrade your hardware. Windows Vista demands some steep hardware requirements that include 1GB of memory, and a 128 MB video card.

When Microsoft released Windows XP in 2001, they released two editions, Home and Professional. With Windows Vista, Microsoft is making available four, count them, four different editions: Windows Vista Home Basic, Windows Vista Home Premium, Windows Vista Business, and Windows Vista Ultimate. If you are just checking e-mail, writing papers, and can live without the cool new “Aero Glass” effects then Windows Vista Home Basic will work just fine. In fact, if you own a laptop that is more than a year or two old, then it is more than likely only able to run Windows Vista Home Basic. Aside from casual users or those with older systems, Windows Home Premium will work and will be what most new computers will come installed with. Sticking to its name, Windows Vista Business will appeal to the business sector. Finally, Windows Vista Ultimate will serve as the all encompassing “ultimate” version of Windows that will pack in all the sleek features that Windows Vista has to offer. Pricing starts at $99 just for the Windows Vista Home Basic upgrade and ends at $299 for the full version of Vista Ultimate.

If you have used Windows XP long enough, I am sure you have been annoyed and sometimes haunted by pop-ups, spyware and viruses. Those who have had enough may be wondering if Windows Vista will be as troubled in this area as its predecessor. You may be asking yourself if you should run out and buy Windows Vista or to buy a new PC with Windows Vista preinstalled. I am not sure if any casual user who just wants to use their PC should run out and buy something this new and fresh. While it appears that Microsoft has made some substantial security improvements with Windows Vista, only time will tell after it has been on the market long enough for kinks to be worked out and hackers have had enough time to pound on it.

Regardless of what security issues it may encounter in the weeks ahead, Windows Vista is for sure going to be more stable and secure than Windows XP. The biggest thing about Windows Vista that stands out to me is its ease of use. This is a corner that Microsoft has struggled to turn in the past. As long as they continue to make ease of use and security the focus points, Microsoft is finally headed down the right road.

Volkswagon has long had a slogan that reads “Driver’s Wanted.” If the simplicity and ease of use in Windows Vista continues in future products, Microsoft may finally be able to consider the slogan “Users Wanted” – not “Technicians Wanted.”

Microsoft has today announced the release of a video download service via Xbox Live on the recently released Xbox 360 console. Beginning November 22, users will be able to purchase and download video content onto to their Xbox 360, to then play them on their tv. Microsoft has been pushing its Media Center PC conept with the Xbox 360 since many users find it too difficult to tranfer content from a PC to a tv. The service is said to be a bit similar to Apple’s iTunes video service – with similar pricing. One catch on movies though, (oh, you just knew this was coming, didn’t ya?) you don’t exactly own your videos – it is a rental service for movies rather than purchasing. On the up side for Microsoft, they are providing HD content for some shows and movies, so with no PC in the middle, this direct download to tv concept may begin to sound appealing for Xbox 360 users, as well as anyone in the market for a gaming system.

Today, Microsoft officially took the wraps off the official website to their up and coming Zune Media Player. The site features photo and video advertisements of the Zune, as well as links to accessories that will be available for the Zune. Microsoft also announced that upon the arrival of the Zune Media Player and Marketplace, the MSN Music store will cease selling music and all “buy” buttons on the MSN Music store will become links to the Zune Store and to Real’s Raphsody Music Service.

Once the Zune and it’s marketplace is unveiled, consumers will be given the option to purchase music per song or a monthly subscription service. Microsoft’s new Zune will be featured in White, Black or Brown colors, in sizes of 30 and 60 GBs of data capacity, and sell for around $249. Microsoft’s Zune Media Player and Marketplace is slated to make its debut on November 14.

Tonight, like most nights, I found myself surfing the web and checking email rather late – later than I should, anyway. So, I stumble upon an email announcement from Microsoft informing consumers that starting now, you can purchase a “Vista Compatible PC” today and you may be eligible for what they are calling an Express Upgrade to Windows Vista. First off, my thought is “Express? Right … ” After laughing at the thought of Microsoft doing anything in an Express fashion, I took a look at the list of Vendors participating in this program – including the likes of Levono, HP, and Sony. One participator on the list included Dell – no surprise there – so I went to their “Vista Upgrade Site” to check out a few of the compatible machines that they are offering as apart of this program. After surfing for a moment, trying to find more details on how Dell is going about it, I notice they offer a link to What is even more stunning to me is the information that appears when the page displays which states that you will then be able to redeem your ‘voucher’ or whatnot after November 13, 2006. I am baffled here because all of the other manufacturer’s state that Vista will not be redeemable until Vista’s release, projected in early 2007. That date makes more sense because that is when it has been slated for a while. Now, my next thought was that maybe this November date posted by Dell is for the Enterprise edition for businesses, and this could be true. However, Other sources read that Enterprise editions will only be available via volume licensing, so why would Dell go public to the average consumer and post such a date for a business product without at least being more specific? Could this be a fast one that Windows attempted to pull on us but Dell has let out of the bag? Personally, I have my doubts and I believe that there is either a mix up or this ‘release date’ is for the Enterprise edition. What’s your take on it? In case this is a mixup or a ‘spilling of the beans’, and Dell clears off the information by the time you go to the link above, here is a link of a screenshot I took.

After five years and numerous security flaws, Microsoft finally makes the much needed significant update to Internet Explorer. On Thursday, Microsoft formally announced the release of its flagship web browser, Internet Explorer version 7. The new browser brings forth a dramatic change in appearance and usability. But that’s not all, IE7 packs plenty of new features and abilities to its security ravaged predecessor. IE7 brings in support for RSS (Real Simple Syndication) news feeds, and a few helpful anti-phishing and pop-up blocker tools. Most of these tools have already existed in IE’s competition, Firefox and Opera for some time.

However, less than a full day of its released, a Danish security company revealed a security flaw that IE7 has apparently picked up from its predecessor, IE6. Moreover, the security flaw has been considered ‘less critical’ and difficult to exploit.

Now that IE7 has released, I will take many of the new features listed earlier and expand on them and tell how accurate they really are. The big story for IE7 will be how much more secure it can be than IE6. With the added tools, it certainly does look more secure in nature. However, only time will tell; and as for me, I think I will stick with Firefox, version 2 which is primed for release any day now.

Microsoft responded on the heels of Apple’s event that they will be shipping their future Zune player in time for the holiday season. It will sport a wide screen for movie viewing, wireless sharing, and an FM tuner. I will be posting soon to elaborate more on the touted features.

Price points were initially to be reported, however it has been said that Microsoft halted it’s plans to release the prices after Apple dropped their price points on their two headline iPod models by $50 each the day before. People will be able to purchace Microsoft’s Zune in three colors: white, black and brown (honestly, brown? yes, brown.)


In the past few weeks I have have downloaded and have been tinkering with Windows Vista Beta 2 – which was released at the end of May for public download. Like many would agree, it isn’t accurate or fair to a company to review a product still in beta, simply because the work isn’t finished yet – so, what I have been using in the Beta now may or may not be included when Vista is expected to make its prime-time arrival in January of 2007. So, I am not posting to review it, nor will a post come any time soon. However, I will say that to me Vista looks to be no more than a glorified repainting of Windows XP. Yes, it does sport some nice small features, and seems to run rather snappy compared to XP. However, I am not sure if the small visual updates, with the question of security lingering over Microsoft, is worth the money that it will cost to upgrade.

The thing to keep in mind is that this release will be one of epic proportions, and Microsoft knows it. Therefore, I would not be surprised to see another delay or two in the release. Although, a delay or two might cause more Windows users waiting to upgrade their computers to suddenly look at Apple and their more secure, and simple OS X Tiger (soon to be Leopard.) Today, Microsoft’s Bill Gates said at this years Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference “If the feedback from the beta tests shows it is not ready for prime time, I’d be glad to delay it.” With that said, Microsoft is posting no garuntee at all that we will see Vista in early 2007. Microsoft’s also knows the seriousness of Vista and the black mark of approval that Microsoft has received from consumers, developers, and PC manufacturers alike about Vista’s ongoing delays since 2003. “I think it’s probably important for me to tell our partners that, rest assured, we will never have a gap between Windows releases as long as the one between XP and Windows Vista,” Microsoft’s chairman and CEO said at the conference.

Microsoft knows that Vista will be among the most important release they have ever faced. So, as Vista approaches time will only tell if Vista’s stability and security lives up to its new visual and organizational hype.