Digital Home Thoughts - News & Reviews for the Digital Home

Be sure to register in our forums and post your comments - we want to hear from you!

Zune Thoughts

Loading feed...

Apple Thoughts

Loading feed...

Laptop Thoughts

Loading feed...

All posts tagged "microsoft"

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Microsoft to Sell Windows 7 for 8% Less Than Vista

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 09:38 AM

I was looking at Microsoft's stock price on Google Finance (oh, the irony), and saw this little line that caught my attention:

"Microsoft Corp on Thursday said it will sell the standard home-user version of its new Windows 7 operating system for 8 percent less than the comparable version of its Vista system, as the global downturn hits spending on technology."

This is the first I've heard of any pricing information about Windows 7 - this 8% drop would make the approximate prices as follows based on Best Buy pricing today for Windows Vista:

  • Windows 7 Home Premium Full: $220 USD
  • Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade: $119 USD
  • Windows 7 Ultimate Full: $294 USD

That's just a theoretical price though of course - because today you can buy Windows Vista Home Premium Upgrade from for $83.57 USD, far less than the $129.99 USD Best Buy is charging. In the XP to Vista transition era, the vast majority of computer users didn't upgrade their operating systems. Most people getting Vista bought a new PC. Windows 7, however, is going to be a different beast - if someone has a reasonable Vista-era computer, they'll have all they need to run Windows 7. So if Microsoft wants those people to upgrade to Windows 7, the upgrade pricing has to be reasonable. I'm not sure 8% is going to cut it. What do you think?

UPDATE: Looks like the pricing details on Windows 7 are now public. $119.99 (Home Premium), $199.99 (Business), or $219.99 (Ultimate) are the upgrade prices for XP or Vista users. Those fall in line with the prices I estimated above. That strikes me as too expensive, especially in this belt-tightening economy we're in. I think $89 USD would have been a much more attractive upgrade price. There's going to be a limited Window of pre-order pricing at $49 USD for the Home Premium upgrade, starting on the 26th of June, but how many people are going to take advantage of that? I'll post more news about that when I find out details.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Windows 7 Running on Lean Hardware

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 04:19 PM

"A user by the name of "hackerman1" has installed Windows 7 on his PC, which in itself is nothing to write home about. The catch here is that he's gotten a bootable, working installation on no less than a Pentium II system. No, that's not a typo--Pentium Two. The old machine consists of a 266 MHz CPU, a whopping 96 MB of memory, and a next-generation 4 MB graphics card."

While we know that Windows 7 is less memory-intensive than Windows Vista, this is a geeky experiment bordering on lunacy when you consider other users in the same forum as "hackerman1" are reporting install times of 17 hours on Pentium III-based systems and boot times of 17 minutes. Why do they do this? Because they can of course!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Does Netbook = Low Cost Small Notebook PC?

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home News" @ 03:00 AM

"The marketing geniuses in Redmond are at it again. From the folks who brought us "Zune," "Bing," and "MSN Search Toolbar with Windows Desktop Search" comes a new name for the venerable netbook. Digitimes reports that Microsoft will refer to netbooks as "low cost small notebook PCs," according to Microsoft's Steven Guggenheimer. Try saying that ten times fast. Microsoft's rationale for the name-change? A netbook can do more than just get you online, so it should be called something else. There's no arguing that—some new netbooks hitting the market can even handle 1080p video, thanks to a bolstered graphics system."

At first I was thinking that this was simply a result of the pending Psion lawsuit, but then I recalled that the issue had been dropped and the term netbook was again fair game. The article comes up with a pretty simple reason for the more descriptive name - Windows 7. Microsoft does not want the everything in the netbook category to be eligible for the starter version of Windows 7, especially if they are capable of running a more expensive version of the OS. Regardless, I'm still calling them netbooks.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Windows 7 Available on October 22nd

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 01:02 PM

"Microsoft Corp said on Tuesday its new Windows 7 operating system will be generally available on October 22, well ahead of its original schedule and in time for the holiday shopping season. The new operating system, which will replace the unpopular Vista, was originally planned for roll-out at the beginning of next year, but Microsoft confirmed last month that it would hit the market in time for the year's busiest buying period."

And there you have it folks, the day has been announced: October 22nd will be when Windows 7 is sitting on retail shelves. The RTM of Windows 7 is going to be around the end of July - giving Microsoft almost two months to polish up the OS and squash the most serious bugs. No news yet on the pricing of Windows 7 or, and this is important to me, the way Microsoft will price upgrade bundles for homes with multiple Windows Vista computers. I hope they come up with something smart, because this matters more now than it did in the XP to Vista transition.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Bing: The Decision Engine

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 08:08 PM

Bing is a new search engine that's coming soon - and, this may surprise some of you, it's a search engine coming from Microsoft. After years of not making much progress against Google, Microsoft is shifting gears and creating a new type of search engine. I'm sure it will have similar index results to Live Search - which isn't exactly a good thing given that Live Search doesn't always deliver results as solid as Google does - but it has some very interesting "meta tools" that look like they could be very useful. Basic search hasn't changed much in the past few years, so there's certainly room for innovation - Bing looks like it might deliver exactly that. Check out the teaser video and tell me what you think...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Xbox 360 Sales Hit the 30 Million Mark

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 08:34 AM

"The number was reached after what MS is calling "the biggest year" in Xbox history - 2008 - which saw console growth swell up 28 percent. The Xbox Live community has grown to more than 20 million active members, it says, making it "the world's largest global entertainment network", putting the online service in more homes than "any satellite television provider". Before the end of the year, the number of Xbox Live members will surpass the number of subscribers to the largest cable provider, the company says."

There's no doubting that the Xbox 360 is one of Microsoft's most successful products in a market that was previously thought of as being "un-crackable" because the PS/2 had it all locked up. Then along came Microsoft, and Nintendo, and the market turned into a three-way death match. It's all good for consumers, giving us the choice of whichever technology suits us best. I'm still rocking my original Xbox 360 from November 2005 (man, that seems old!), with nary a red ring of death in sight. I sometimes wish it would die so I could get one of the newer, quieter, HDMI-based units - but it keeps on kicking.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Windows Vista Service Pack 2 (SP2) Available For Download

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 12:00 PM

If you hit Windows Update today, you'll likely be presented with a big 343 MB download - that's SP2 for Windows Vista. I'm in the midst of installing it on one of my machines right now, but the download is taking a very long time...I suspect the Windows Update servers are saturated with people requesting this update. You can always grab the stand-alone installer if you wish (32-bit, 64-bit). In terms of what's new, well, not much of anything interesting - this Technet article has the full list, but nothing jumped out at me. Unlike SP1, which had major performance improvements, SP2 is more about the bug fixes and improving compatibility with third-party software. Honestly, the more I use Windows 7 the more I want to ditch Windows Vista. Not because there's anything wrong with Vista, but because Windows 7 is even better.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Windows 7 Enhancements

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 03:00 PM

I noticed something new after I'd installed Windows 7 on my HP Mini 1000 and was getting it configured for use: I was downloading a large file (a printer driver) using IE8, and simultaneously copying a large file from my Windows Home Server. When I minimized all the windows (Windows Key+D), the icons on the task bar became progress indicators so you can see at a glance how each process is doing. Slick!

One of the other enhancements I'm impressed with is how high-performance the video driver is: the HP Mini 1000 uses the Intel GMA945, which is generally considered to be a near-worthless GPU in terms of performance. After running Windows Update on a fresh install of Windows 7, a pre-release driver update for the GMA945 is provided. And after installing that driver, I was amazed to see how smooth all the animations were in Windows 7. Everything from hovering over the taskbar icons and getting the window preview, to hovering over the desktop shortcut on the far right of the taskbar; it was all very smooth. Surprisingly, even flipping through Widnows Media Center was fast and smooth. I should note that this is without any significant amount of content in it, but the basic UI navigation was very smooth, which is something that surprised me.

Are you using the Windows 7 release candidate? If so, what are some of your favourite features so far? I keep discovering new things the more I use it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Windows 7 to Cost More than Windows Vista?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 08:00 PM;pop

""In tough economic times, I think it's naive to believe that you can increase your prices on average and then still see a stronger swell than if you held prices flat or even lowered them. I can tell you that the licensing tiers at retail are more expensive than they were for Vista." In the business market, Windows 7 Professional is expected to be more expensive than Windows Vista Business, the version that Professional is replacing, he said."

Without firm pricing announced by Microsoft, it seems hard to get too up-in-arms about this, but one thing is for sure: this is not the ideal financial environment for Microsoft to be raising their prices in. I also think that, where consumers are concerned, Microsoft is going to run into trouble with windows Vista owners not wanting to upgrade to Windows 7 unless Microsoft can make it affordable for them to do so - and this is especially true in the case of multi-computer households. With Windows XP, many people upgraded to Windows Vista with new computers because they'd had their XP-based systems for years. Vista still feels brand-new in comparison, and the vast majority of consumers running Vista today are doing so on hardware that's less than two years old. If Microsoft is expecting those users to drop $129 USD (the price of Vista Home Premium Upgrade) on every computer in the house, that's probably not going to happen.

Windows 7 To Feature Virtual WiFi

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 08:30 AM

"In essence, how Virtual WiFi works is very similar to how virtualization works for operating systems which most people are familiar with - the transparent sharing of limited hardware resources to many operating systems. Virtual WiFi, abbreviated to VWiFi, is a software layer that abstracts the wireless LAN card hardware into multiple virtual adapters."

I am sure that some of you are wondering what possible use could using one wireless network adapter connect to two wireless networks be? Well, maybe not in those exact words, but something along those lines. While I can't say this is one of the most important features to be included in Windows 7, I can definately see this being handy. First, it can allow any laptop with supporting hardware to share a WiFi signal like a hotel WiFi connection. Second, it allows you to connect to two WiFi networks such as one public and one private at the same time. Unfortunately, once you activate the virtual adapter, it does cut your speed in half or more. All in all, it is just another reason why Windows 7 does appear to be the OS that will put Microsoft back on the map.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

An Open Letter to Micorsoft from Neowin on the Next Version of Windows

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 11:30 AM

"Dear Microsoft, Congratulations on recently releasing the Windows 7 release candidate. As I've mentioned before, it's shaping into an excellent product and I have given my reasons why I think people should upgrade. But let's pause for a moment and look ahead to your supposed next version of Windows, Windows 8, since it's already in planning stages. Now that you've gotten a way to get some kind of backwards compatibility in your OS virtually, this presents an opportunity to rebuild Windows from the ground up and turn it into an excellent product. Here are some ideas I think should be implemented into the next version of Windows..."

Neowin is a Windows-focused site that has been around for quite some time, so they know of what they speak when it comes to Microsoft's flagship product. I agree very strongly with some of their requests - the death of the registry is overdue, and the general mess that applications are allowed to leave on a system - and the conflicts and crashes that occur from DLL sharing - shouldn't be allowed to continue. Microsoft makes the naive assumption that developers will code their apps properly, but that doesn't occur as often as it should. DLL sharing is a concept that came about when hard drives were tiny and it made sense to save space. Now? It's just one more way for an app to crash - every app should use its own DLLs. Read more...

Monday, May 11, 2009

Windows 7 On Track for Holiday Season Release

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 11:02 AM

"Our approach to the development of Windows 7, as we've highlighted in the past, has been tied to people like you around the world contributing in real-time by testing our key Windows 7 milestones - from the Pre-Beta we handed out to PDC attendees last year, to the Windows 7 Beta, and now the Windows 7 RC which we recently released for everyone to try...If the telemetry we receive from the Windows 7 RC meets our expectations in terms of quality, then we expect to hit RTM in 3 months or so. Again, check out Steven's blog post on this process. If this happens, it looks like we'll be able to have Windows 7 done in time for the holidays. I want to underscore that our top priority remains QUALITY. This guidance does not alter that principle."

I recall someone being quite dismissive of my opinion that Windows 7 wouldn't be released until holiday 2009 - he was certain it would be out for back-to-school season - but it looks like my instincts were right. Microsoft's focus on quality is higher with Windows 7 than any previous version of Windows. After the rocky start that Windows Vista had in the market, Microsoft doesn't want to see this repeated with Windows 7. From what I've seen, Windows 7 is shaping up to be a the best version of Windows yet and I'm looking forward to seeing it on some sweet new hardware later this year!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Windows 7 Release Candidate is Out

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 11:32 AM

"As we previously announced, today the Windows 7 RC is now available for anyone interested in giving it a spin! Typically, a release candidate is the last development milestone before release to manufacturing (RTM), signifying that engineering and development have made significant advancements and that the code is entering the final phases of testing. Essentially, the Windows 7 RC is the result of a lot of the great feedback we received during the Windows 7 Beta. That's why I'm so excited to use it and excited for YOU to use it!"

I'm downloading it right now and will take it for a spin on my HP Mini 1000. I'm looking forward to spending some time with the release candidate, seeing what's changed, etc. My experience with Windows 7 has thus far been very positive. Anyone else taken the RC for a spin yet?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Engadget Taste Tests Windows 7 RC1

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 07:00 AM

"As you may or may not know, Windows 7 Release Candidate 1 has been officially handed out to MSDN and TechNet subscribers today, and there are plans to unleash the heavily-hyped OS to the waiting public at large come May 5th. We had a chance to sit down with reps from Microsoft to discuss the new iteration of Windows (and the company's current frame of mind) more in-depth, and we've taken the new build for a bit of a spin around the block. Read on for an exploration into a few of the more delicious Windows 7 tidbits, as well as a full complement of our (potentially) enlightening observations."

Yes, that is one of the built-in wallpapers that Windows 7 RC1 comes with. Engadget touches on a few parts of the Release Candidate like Remote Media Streaming and the Windows XP Emulation that's been getting headlines lately, but not a huge amount has changed since the beta. The hype around Windows 7 has been pretty favourable and while I personally haven't had any issues with Vista, Windows 7 looks to be a welcome step up that might be more worthwhile than an XP to Vista upgrade. For those of you who still haven't tested Windows 7, word is that the Relase Candidate will be made available to the public within a few days and will not expire until June 1st, 2010! That's pretty much a free copy of Windows 7 for one whole year. It looks like Microsoft is really working and pushing hard to make Windows 7 their recovery after the Vista disappointment.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Windows Media Player to Support Streaming

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Software" @ 03:00 PM

"In the announcement of the impending release of Windows 7 RC (basically the final beta), Microsoft on Wednesday confirmed a rumor that I first saw reported by Zack Whitaker of ZDNet last month: a new feature called Remote Media Streaming will let you access the music library on your home PC from another computer over the Web. It's like Slingbox, only instead of accessing the cable box or DVR sitting in your home, you're accessing the music files stored on your home PC."

This would be an excellent feature to implement to the Zune. I mean, come on, the wi-fi is just asking for a killer application and this would be one of the few features that the iPod touch does not use its wi-fi for. Of course, this is probably a pipe dream since this is in WMP rather that the Zune's software.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

DYI Multitouch Surface Table

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 03:00 AM

"It all started while we were researching an article on future user interfaces. Touch interfaces are hardly futuristic at this point, but multi-touch hardware like the Microsoft Surface or the iPhone is just starting to become a big deal, and we decided to see what big things are going on in that field. What we found that surprised us the most wasn’t anything about the future of multitouch; it was about something that people are doing right now. There is, it turns out, a whole community of very smart folks out there on the internet perfecting the art of building DIY multi-touch surfaces. The process isn’t exactly simple, but the results we saw were stunning: multitouch surfaces with responsiveness rivaling Microsoft’s $12,000 offering, built in a garage on a shoestring budget. “Future UI article be damned,” we thought, “we’ve gotta build one of these for ourselves.”"

I've got a friend who claims he is building one of these. Looks like a cool idea. If it pans out I'll post the details.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Windows 7 Has Built-In ISO Burning

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 07:30 AM

"Geeks and IT Pros often have to burn an ISO image (.iso file) to physical media such as a CD or DVD to test out and install software. We have made it easier to burn ISO images in Windows 7 by natively supporting the ability to burn ISO images directly within Windows without the need of a third party tool. To burn an ISO image in Windows 7, all someone needs to do is simply right-click on an ISO image and choose "Burn disc image"."

Another useful feature coming in Windows 7: ISO burning. I probably have to burn an ISO 5x as often as I have to rip them, so while I'll probably still install ImgBurn (awesome + free) on my main computer, it's nice to see that Windows 7 will have more capability out of the box than Windows Vista.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Microsoft's Image Composite Editor (ICE)

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 09:00 PM

"In my blog post announcing the Microsoft Image Composite Editor (ICE), I mentioned the tight integration with the next version of Windows Live Photo Gallery (WLPG). That next version has been available for a while now, so I wanted to give WLPG users a quick intro to ICE. Most of you are probably familiar with the "create panoramic image" capabilities in WLPG. My team in Microsoft Research developed the technology behind this. ICE is another tool that you can use to create panoramic images. It uses the same technology as WLPG under the hood and adds a few features."

Above you have the typical before and after shot - very interesting to see it change the perspective of the photo. I have very little experience with Windows Live Photo Gallery, but I have to admit it's impressive how they keep adding more and more features to their product. I still prefer Picasa, but Windows Live Photo Gallery is becoming a real competitor to it. The "deep zoom" function is also quite impressive.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Tom's Guide Shows You How Windows 7 Became Windows 7

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 11:30 AM

"At Microsoft’s Mix conference, the company showed off some of its early work on Windows 7, giving attendees a rare look into the birth of an operating system’s user interface. Try to imagine life with some of these aborted attempts at a new operating system: Would you have stood for these features?"

Windows 7 will be coming with a lot of new user interface features. As with any long project, features evolve over time as they're tested, tuned and trampled on and Tom's Guide has given us a chance to see how Windows 7 became what it is today. It's a good insight and leads me to believe that Microsoft does go through a fair bit of effort to try and make the Windows "experience" as productive and enjoyable as possible. I'm extremely glad that taskbar thumbnails and the bat signal did not make it into Windows 7. Maybe because reminds me about a particular flash ad that would constantly say a greeting whenever I moused over it, the idea of having lots of little thumbnails wiggling and doing all manner of things in the taskbar disturbs me.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Microsoft Killing Encarta

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 03:00 PM

"Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) will discontinue both its MSN Encarta reference Web sites as well as its Encarta software, which have both been surpassed by rising competitors, like Wikipedia. In a message posted on the MSN Encarta Web site, Microsoft says, "Encarta has been a popular product around the world for many years. However, the category of traditional encyclopedias and reference material has changed. People today seek and consume information in considerably different ways than in years past.""

This doesn't come as a big surprise, but I do think it's unfortunate - as much as I enjoy Wikipedia, for research purposes I think it's always important to have more than one source of information. I don't have the paranoia that some people do about inaccurate information on Wikipedia, but having content written by professionals can never be a bad thing as a secondary source of information to fact-check the primary source. Goodbye Encarta; even though I haven't used you in years, I'll still miss you...

Featured Product

The Canon PowerShot S100 - The incredibly fun and small camera that offers you 12.1 megapixels with a bright f/2.0 lens and full 1080p video recording . MORE INFO

News Tip or Feedback?

Contact us

Thoughts Media Sites

Windows Phone Thoughts

Digital Home Thoughts

Zune Thoughts

Apple Thoughts

Laptop Thoughts

Android Thoughts

Reviews & Articles

Loading feed...


Loading feed...

Reviews & Articles

Loading feed...


Loading feed...

Reviews & Articles

Loading feed...


Loading feed...

Reviews & Articles

Loading feed...


Loading feed...

Reviews & Articles

Loading feed...


Loading feed...