Microsoft News

Vista’s Successors: Fiji and Vienna

A blog titled unnecessary has posted an article about the next two releases of Windows, Fiji and Vienna, listing feature updates, application updates, WinFS, Monaco a music authoring tool, decoders for HD-DVD and Blue Ray, better speech recognition for Fiji, I guess this is why it will be sort of a SP2

Windows Vista has been released for a month now to business, and is going to be released to the general public in a month (January 30). For those who haven?t been following Vista?s development, it is worth noting that even though Vista comes 5 years after XP, it is a rushed product.

It doesn?t really matter if Vista is a success or not, Microsoft cannot wait another five years to release another Windows. People are becoming more aware of the choices they have, and Linux is no longer a hobbyist OS, and that day isn?t far away when it becomes simple enough to be a viable alternative to Windows.

And that is why Microsoft is planning a ?Vista R2″, codename ?Fiji?. From what little information is available we know that this will be a minor release sometime in 2008.

Sounds reasonable so far.

Windows Vienna (formerly Blackcomb) will be a huge departure from current incarnations of Windows, Similar to the transition from OS8-9 to OSX. It will break compatibility with all applications, but the newer, more flexible, richer and secure platform will be incentive enough for applications to be re-written for Vienna. Source: unnecessary

Vienna, or Blackcomb, will have its interface stripped, meaning no start menu, no toolbars or menus, no more shells or taskbars, even better speech recognition, because of WinFS there will be no more need of drives or even files/folders to worry about, but the big thing that doesn’t sound right, is the fact that they will be breaking compatibility with all applications. Something Microsoft has never done in the past.

Robert Claws in a post on his Windows Now blog titled Gees, Apparently Anyone is an Expert These Days says all of the information is made up, plus, it doesn’t help that site that this was its first post.

I love Engadget. But apparently these days, they’ll link to anyone. Consider this post: the blog they link to has a single post in it, purportedly with “inside information” about the next two Windows releases. The problem is, the information they link to is grossly inaccurate. For one thing, Microsoft would never put out a release that “completely breaks backwards compatibility” as a feature, and for another… WinFS as we knew it is long dead. But that’s just the start… almost all of this information is completely made up. Source: Windows Now

Some sites will do anything to get links and traffic, as it is, they have received links from me, Windows Now and lots others, probably a nice start for his blog anyway.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Jimmy Daniels - December 31, 2006 at 7:08 am

Categories: Microsoft News, Windows Vista   Tags:

Microsoft Speaks Up About the Zune Player

After taking much criticism of their latest product, the Zune Media Player, this week Microsoft spoke up about some of their plans for Zune and how this year is just a beachhead, or first landing, so to speak. They expect to sell 1 million players be the end of the fiscal year, June 2007, which would give them somewhere between 10 to 20 percent of the market currently enjoyed by the Apple iPod, which is not too bad of a first year. They also mention that some of the features that they don’t have compared to the iPod are ones that most users don’t use much, and are ones that they will be adding as time goes on.

Assuming that happens, Zune isn’t a total wash, as the number one non-iPod product in the over-$200 MP3 player market during last year’s holiday season only sold a tiny fraction of that amount. It’s also worth nothing that Zune went from the first whiteboard scribbles to finished product in about 10 months, a monumental feat for a company that isn’t particularly well know for moving quickly.

The key to Microsoft’s decision to make the Zune, I was told, is that while Apple controls 75 to 80 percent of the overall market for MP3 players, Apple completely controls the only parts of the market that make money (i.e. large capacity MP3 players). For all of its work creating the underlying technologies for the PlaysForSure initiative, Microsoft watched as its numerous hardware partners, collectively, managed only to steal tiny amounts of share in the low-end flash memory player part of the business. This is not a sustainable business model, I was told.

This holiday season, then, is a “beachhead” period for Microsoft, during which it is trying to change people’s perceptions of the MP3 market from “Apple and everyone else” to “Apple and Microsoft and everyone else.” From this perspective, the company has been somewhat successful. Despite lukewarm reviews, the Zune is a hotly debated topic among influentials. Looking forward, Microsoft intends for Zune to be profitable in 12 to 24 months. “This is the fuel we need to go after Apple on a long-term basis,” I was told. Source: WindowsITPro

They plan to launch and ship many updates for the Zune player and will be adding new devices with more unique features. They are currently readying the first update for some bug fixes and things current users will appreciate, but this update does not contain any new features, especially the one everyone wants, more WiFi stuff baby.

Microsoft is also readying its first software update for the Zune. The update will allow the Zune to work with Windows Vista, Microsoft’s just-finished operating system, which is now available to businesses and goes on sale to consumers in January.

The Zune software update, which is expected before Christmas, will fix some minor glitches and add some performance and other improvements, Microsoft said. The company won’t include major new features in the release, however. Source: News.com

Bill Gates said they are just going to do media, they are going to do more, and they expect to spend several hundred million dollars to develop and market the Zune Media Player.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Jimmy Daniels - December 7, 2006 at 8:21 pm

Categories: Gadgets, Microsoft News   Tags: , , , ,

Microsoft Releases Expression Studio

Microsoft has released Expression Studio, looking to enhance it’s family of prefessional design tools, they announced that Expression Web is shipping, Expression Media was announced; the latest technology previews deliver product and new platform advancements with the first CTP of WPF/E. Also, made available today is the first CTP of Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere (WPF/E). WPF/E is a cross platform browser plug-in for delivering rich media, animation and video content. Expression Media and Expression Design provide support for authoring content for the WPF/E CTP. Wow, that’s a lot of acronym’s.

Microsoft Corp. today announced significant product line enhancements along with pricing and availability of the Microsoft Expression Studio for creative professionals. The quality of user experience is emerging as a core requirement for differentiating products and services while optimizing customers? brand loyalty. Expression Studio, a key component of Microsoft?s strategy for improving the user experience delivered by applications, provides designers with an end-to-end tools platform that boosts collaboration with developers in the delivery of next-generation user experiences for the Web, Windows Vista applications and beyond.

Expression Studio comprises Expression Web for creating standards-based Web sites; Expression Blend (formally Interactive Designer) for designing rich interactive experiences for Windows; Expression Design (formally Graphic Designer) for the design of visual elements for Web and Windows experiences; and a new tool, Expression Media, which provides digital asset management and unifies team workflow across the suite. Expression Web is shipping today, and the full Expression Studio is planned for delivery in the second quarter of 2007.

?The Expression family, together with our Visual Studio development tools and platform technologies, uniquely elevates the craft of design and user experience to the forefront of the software development process,? said S. Somasegar, corporate vice president of the Developer Division at Microsoft Corp. ?Our goal is to enable designers to collaborate like never before with development teams so together they can raise the bar for user experiences and deliver compelling, rich, immersive, highly usable applications and content across the Web, the Windows desktop, mobile devices and the digital home.? Source: Microsoft

Microsoft also unveiled final product pricing and availability for the complete Expression product family. Expression Web is available for an estimated retail price (ERP) of $299 (U.S.), and qualifying users of FrontPage can upgrade to Expression Web for $99 ERP.
Shipping in the second quarter of 2007, Expression Blend will be available for $499 ERP, Expression Media for $299 ERP, and the full Expression Studio for $599 ERP.
When it ships, Expression Studio will also be available as a $349 ERP upgrade to users who have purchased Expression Web and other qualifying Microsoft products. Full product pricing and availability information is available on the http://www.microsoft.com/expression. All Expression products for English-speaking markets will include getting-started video training courtesy of Total Training Inc.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Jimmy Daniels - December 5, 2006 at 5:16 pm

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Another Bad Review for Zune

Just read this post at iTWire called Why consumers are angry with Microsoft over Zune where he describes his experience with the Zune MP3 player from Microsoft, the Zune marketplace software installation he had trouble with because he was using Firefox and goes on to describe why he thinks consumers are angry with Microsoft over the Zune. I say he thinks because he just references himself, so I don’t think he is talking for a group of people.

The first time I tried to download the Zune software, it wouldn’t let me even though my system met the Zune software standards – Win XP SP2, a processor that runs at least at 1.5GHz, memory of at least….hang on what is this nonsense anyway!? I got none of this minimum hardware requirements rubbish when I installed iTunes 7, which installed without hitch in exactly five minutes.

Of course he is comparing 1st generation to 7th generation software, if you go by the version alone, I didn’t do any searching to confirm it, but I remember problem reports with iTunes when it first came out. But you would think Microsoft would try to convert everything they find using the PlaysForSure DRM that windows media player uses, its common courtesy. So, this is not a good comparison, even though Microsoft should’ve had it more polished to start with, being that this has already been done well somewhere else.

The point of all this is that Microsoft seems to have taken the one major thing that consumers don’t like about iPod and iTunes – the DRM restricted closed system – and ignored all the good things. Instead of presenting Joe and Jane consumer with a viable alternative to iPod, Microsoft Zune has given consumers a poorer imitation of the same. That’s why consumers are angry and Zune players, despite massive publicity are still sitting on store shelves.

This is definitely closer to the truth. But I wouldn’t pay for a first generation anything, if I wasn’t getting a Zune from somewhere for free, I would not end up with one for probably a couple years anyway. Heck, I think I bought my first iPod a little over a year ago, so, I really haven’t been any early adopter of much, although that is changing.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Jimmy Daniels - November 27, 2006 at 4:11 am

Categories: Gadgets, Microsoft News, Reviews   Tags: , , ,

Bill Gates Dream

Was just reading the Bill Gates interview at news.com, it’s long and is a two parter, but well worth the read, anytime Bill Gates talks about computers, you should listen. Like the man or not, he is a visionary, you can talk about copying software or products all you like, but it takes more than just copying something to make it work. They got lucky the guy for CPM was out the day IBM called, so their “version” of the operating system was the one used on IBM personal computers, putting them on the map. Anyway, he said his dream was to be able to make Tablet PC’s so cheap, that you could replace textbooks with them, and I think that is great, the sooner you get computers in kids hands, the more comfortable they are with them, and lets face it, when you aren’t comfortable with them, the more bad stuff happens to them.

The PC itself keeps getting cheaper, and the multiuse phone gets it out even (more broadly). Because, as you say, we do want everyone–certainly every kid, as part of their educational experience–to have that kind of access.

The dream for me is to get the tablet computer to be so cheap that it’s less than you would have spent on textbooks. Then every kid has a tablet. We’re still working hard to make that happen. Source: News.com

That will be great, and if you can get them down to just a few hundred, school systems might be able to make it happen, as some new textbooks can cost hundreds themselves.

“My instincts, if they’re wrong, it’s usually not about what’s right,” the Microsoft chairman told CNET News.com during a swing through Silicon Valley on Wednesday. “It’s about timing.”

We all remember the late attack on the Internet by Microsoft, one I’m sure he will never live down. With his new focus on philanthropy, he will be remembered as a great man, like it or not.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Jimmy Daniels - November 18, 2006 at 7:10 pm

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Windows PowerShell Command Line Shell

It was posted on the Windows PowerShell team blog that Windows PowerShell 1.0 has been released. Looks like a good replacemant, some really useful looking scripts are already available.

Microsoft Windows PowerShell command line shell and scripting language helps IT Professionals achieve greater productivity. Using a new admin-focused scripting language, more than 130 standard command line tools, and consistent syntax and utilities, Windows PowerShell allows IT Professionals to more easily control system administration and accelerate automation. Windows PowerShell is easy to adopt, learn, and use, because it works with your existing IT infrastructure and existing script investments, and because it runs on Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server Longhorn. Exchange Server 2007, System Center Operations Manager 2007, System Center Data Protection Manager V2, and System Center Virtual Machine Manager leverage Windows PowerShell to improve efficiency and productivity. Source: Windows PowerShell Download Page

The download page is full of links to valuable stuff, like the Technet script center, with over 250 scripts, including over 100 to help manage Exchange, links to the SDK, newsgroups, getting started guide, quick reference, articles and books, webcasts and more.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Jimmy Daniels - November 15, 2006 at 1:58 am

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Microsoft and Universal Strike a Deal, Who is Next?

Microsoft and Universal have signed an agreement that says Universal gets over $1 per Zune sold in exchange for licensing its recordings to Microsoft’s new digital music service. This is huge. Apple has no deals with recording companies like this, Apple only pays them for songs sold through iTunes. This will definitely affect any future deals they have with these companies, companies like Universal had no idea that billions would be made from the iPod when they signed their deals with Apple, so they will want a cut of anything going forward, and I can’t imagine Apple not having to pony some more money up, if they loose tracks in iTunes, they may loose customers to Microsoft and their Zune player.

Universal Music, a unit of Vivendi, will receive a royalty on the Zune player in exchange for licensing its recordings for Microsoft?s new digital music service, the companies said.

Universal, which releases recordings from acts like U2 and Jay-Z, said it would pay half of what it receives on the device to its artists. The company is expected to receive more than $1 for each $250 device, according to executives who were briefed on the pact. Source: NY Times

“It’s a major change for the industry,” said David Geffen. “Each of these devices is used to store unpaid-for material. This way, on top of the material people do pay for, the record companies are getting paid on the devices storing the copied music.”

Sounds like he is saying we are all pirates and they deserve a cut. I say, lots of us pay for the cd’s and expect to be able to do with them what we want, they are our property after all. If the music companies didn’t point as many fingers as they did and sue as many people as they did, maybe everyone would feel a little different about them. I don’t remember recording songs from radio stations being frowned upon, but it is a lot easier nowadays for one song or album to make its way around the world.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Jimmy Daniels - November 9, 2006 at 7:36 pm

Categories: Apple, Microsoft News, Piracy   Tags: , , , ,

Microsoft Rallies Developers to Build Next-Generation Applications

Microsoft Corp. has unveiled new technologies that enable developers to build next-generation interactive applications for Windows Vista, the 2007 Microsoft Office system and the Web. These new technologies are designed to help developers build Web services and connected, service-oriented applications that deliver the levels of security, reliability and differentiation that business and consumers expect.

?With the release of Windows Vista and the 2007 Microsoft Office system, the sky is really the limit on what developers can build ? from applications that deliver advanced data visualization to highly connected line-of-business solutions,? said Scott Guthrie, general manager of the Developer Division at Microsoft, during his keynote speech at the Visual Studio Connections event. ?By embracing trends such as AJAX and delivering new technologies for Windows and Microsoft Office, we are opening the door to entirely new levels of innovation in the software industry while still allowing developers to use their existing skill sets.?

With easy-to-use tools and APIs designed to ensure immediate productivity and a superior user experience, developers can now begin building and testing their applications in advance of the broad availability of Windows Vista and the 2007 Microsoft Office system.

The following products were released today and yesterday:

  • The release to manufacturing of Microsoft .NET Framework 3.0.
  • The availability to MSDN Premium subscribers of Windows Vista and the 2007 Microsoft Office system on release to manufacturing.
  • The availability of Visual Studio 2005 extensions for the .NET Framework 3.0.
  • The release to manufacturing of Visual Studio 2005 Tools for Office for the 2007 Microsoft Office system.
  • Beta 2 of ASP.NET AJAX Extensions and the Microsoft Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX) Library (collectively called ASP.NET AJAX), formerly codenamed ?Atlas.?
  • The release candidate of Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Compact Edition.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Jimmy Daniels - November 7, 2006 at 11:32 pm

Categories: Microsoft News, Software   Tags:

Microsoft Virtualization Technologies

Here is a good use for a new technology, virtual machines. Using virtual machines you can quickly evaluate software in minutes by downloading the virtual hard disks that are preconfigured and be setup in no time because there is no need for specialized servers or complex installations. The Microsoft VHD format is a common virtualization format that provides uniform product support systems, and provides more seamless manageability, security, reliability and cost-efficiency for customers.

Microsoft is among the leaders in developing a new generation of IT infrastructure technology and tools, such as server virtualization, application virtualization and virtualization management tools, to help customers increase agility while lowering costs.

At VMworld 2006, Microsoft is making available their new virtual hard disk (VHD) Test Drive Program, which allows customers to confidently evaluate enterprise software from Microsoft and its software partners in a fraction of the time. In addition, Microsoft will have booth demonstrations of its application virtualization, server virtualization and virtualization management tools.

This program enables Microsoft and its partners to distribute their enterprise software and applications within a virtual machine so that IT professionals can confidently and quickly evaluate Windows Server-based software. A similar program for Windows Vista will be available in the first quarter of 2007.

These virtual machines, which are provided in Microsoft’s virtual hard disk image format, are pre-built and pre-configured so that they can be downloaded or distributed for easy setup and evaluation. This allows customers to evaluate software in a fraction of the time it usually takes, such as setting up SQL Server 2005 in minutes instead of hours. Source: Microsoft

Microsoft expects more than 20 partners to distribute their software via the VHD Test Drive Program later this quarter, including Altiris, BEA Systems, Check Point, Citrix, CommVault, Dell, FullArmor, HP, Network Appliance, Platespin, Portlock, Quest Software, SourceCode Technology Holdings, Symantec and UGS.

Virtualization is an important part of the Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI) commitment from Microsoft. The goal of DSI is to deliver self-managing dynamic systems to help IT teams capture and use knowledge to design more manageable systems and automate ongoing operations, resulting in reduced costs and more time to proactively focus on what is most important to the organization. Sounds good in theory and should definitely make software testing and deployment much easier.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Jimmy Daniels - at 4:43 am

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Microsoft Jumping Into the VOIP Arena

Steve Ballmer, Executive Officer for Microsoft, announced Monday that their latest software will have VOIP and video conferencing, and will enter the market the first of next year.

Executive Officer Steve Ballmer said Monday that the company’s new software will enable voiceover IP and video conferencing functionality.

“We will enter the voiceover IP market at the beginning of next year,” Ballmer said at a Microsoft conference in Tokyo, adding that the software giant will also enter the video conferencing market early next year. Source: MarketWatch

Microsoft and Google can affect markets the same way, but in different ways. When Google enters a market, they might be able to dominate it with a free offering, might, since not all of their pet projects go well. When Microsoft enters a market, you can count on them gaining a big share, if they don’t dominate it outright, and making big money.

What does this mean? Well likely in January Microsoft will begin to show off some consumer VoIP products in a big way at CES, either under cover in private briefings or in their booth. It also means a flurry of activity with so called partners who will all become “Microsoft Certified.” Source: VOIP Watch

Good read at VOIP Watch, describes Microsoft’s strategy when entering a market, and how they are far from inexperienced and probably already have their roadmap all laid out for Live Communications Server.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Jimmy Daniels - at 2:09 am

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