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All posts tagged "microsoft"

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Calling all Internet Explorer 6 Users

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Thoughts Media Off Topic" @ 10:55 PM

This is somewhat random, but humour me. I've been involved in a discussion over email about browsers - specifically Internet Explorer 6 - and why people are still using it (and if they have a choice in the matter). In the case of Pocket PC Thoughts, in the past month 42.6% of all visitors are using some sort of Internet Explorer, and 42.3% are using Firefox. Of those Internet Explorer users, I was very surprised to see that 21.8% of them are still using IE6. IE6 is a highly problematic browser for developers to code for - so much so that there are several online movements to banish it once and for all - yet it's still being used in surprising numbers.

So if you're using IE6 on your computer that you use to access any of Thoughts Media Web sites, tell me why - I'm really curious! Is it that you're on a corporate computer and they've locked down installing any newer version of IE? Is it that you like IE6 and don't want to change to a newer version? Is it that your computer is messed up and IE7 or IE8 wouldn't even install? There are no wrong answers here, and I'd like to hear from as many of you as possible, so chime in...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Windows Ad Featuring Laptop Hunter Lauren

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 02:30 PM

I really like the direction that these ads are going - I'd had cautious optimism about the Gates & Seinfeld ads, but they never evolved into anything resembling actual communication to customers, so in my mind they were a waste of money in the end. These new ads, however, are emotional, pleasant, and impactful. I really like this "laptop hunter" ad because it illustrates the key weakness in the Apple ecosystem (lack of choice), and the key strength in the Windows ecosystem (lots of choice). If your needs happen to fit into one of the slots that Apple has, you'll probably be pleased with your purchase. If your needs fall outside Apple's carefully defined boxes, such as "sub $1000 notebook = small screen", you're completely out of luck. On the PC side of things, there are near-endless options, and odds are good that you'll find someone making a product that does exactly what you need for the price you wanted to pay. I value choice very highly - yeah, I'm a PC. :-)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

How Dell Adamo Designers Hid The Labels

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 08:30 AM

"The Adamo is clean. Unlike almost every other Windows laptop you can buy, it has no "Designed for Windows" or "Intel Inside" stickers glued to the palm rest. Turn it over, and instead of a jigsaw puzzle of FCC approval stickers, serial number tags, and Microsoft certifications, there's a metal builder's plate with Dell, Intel, and Microsoft logos subtly printed on it. There's even a special magnetic cover hiding a required licensing sticker."

In pretty much every laptop review/video I do, I complain about the labels. To me, they ruin the design aesthetic of the laptop. They add zero value to the user - it's not like they're going to forget they're running Windows Vista - and are usually difficult to remove. The laptop OEMs need to push back - hard - on Microsoft and Intel the way Dell has done with the Adamo. I don't mind so much if the labels are on the bottom of the laptop, but I can see why Dell wanted to keep the bottom of the Adamo clean. I'd like to see more of this from OEMs, all the way down the line.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Internet Explorer 8 Being Released Later Tomorrow

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 09:33 PM

"Today Microsoft announced the availability of Windows Internet Explorer 8, the new web browser that offers the best solution for how people use the web today. It can be downloaded in 25 languages at starting at noon EDT. Internet Explorer 8 is easier to use, faster and offers leading-edge security features, in direct response to people's increasing concerns about online safety. A new study shows: 91% of U.S. adults are concerned about online threats in the current economic climate and 78% are more likely to choose a web browser with built-in security."

I was in a conference call yesterday morning with James Pratt, the Senior Product Manager for Internet Explorer 8, and I have to say that as a die-hard Firefox user, I saw a lot of things in IE8 that I really liked. The first thing is stability - similar to Google's Chrome, each tab in Internet Explorer 8 is a unique software instance (process), so if one tab crashes, the others won't. Having experienced two Firefox crashes this week alone, that's a feature I wish Firefox had. Sure, Firefox will recover your tabs for you (usually) but that won't help bring back the content in those tabs (like a news post I was working on).

On the issue of speed, Internet Explorer 8 is faster on 48% of the top 25 sites than Firefox or Chrome. The list of "Top 25" sites includes the likes of,,,, and many others. I appreciate a synthetic benchmark as much as the next geek, but benchmarks aren't always realistic - and when we're talking about milliseconds, saying you're 200% faster doesn't mean much if both numbers are beyond the threshold of human visual comprehension. Of course, Google Chrome definitely has more "snap" than IE7 or Firefox, so overall speed does matter on some level - I'm looking forward to testing IE8 out to see how it feels in day to day use. Read more...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Zune Software's Speed of Updating Music = Awesome

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Software" @ 02:42 PM

It's a small, but beautiful thing, when software impresses me - and today the Zune software impressed the heck out of me. I always knew it was quite fast at finding new music in a monitored folder, but I didn't realize how fast it was until today. I purchased and downloaded six tracks from the new Mstrkrft album for my wife (she digs electronic music) and after tweaking the metadata and fixing the file names using the always-awesome MediaMonkey, I moved the files up to my Windows Home Server and swung over to my media editing computer. The Zune software was already running on it, and I was amazed to see it pick up the new tracks on the network-shared drive - we're talking less than three seconds before it found the music. That's a beautiful thing. Compare that with Windows Media Center, which seems to not even find my new music half the time unless I kick off a manual update scan in Windows Media Player, and you can see why I use the Zune software on all my computers for listening to music. Good job Zune team! Even if you don't have a Zune, I honestly reccomend giving the Zune software a try - it's a great piece of software.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Microsoft Updates Windows 7 RC Feature List

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 01:30 PM

"This blog post talks about a few of the improvements that will be in our Release Candidate (RC) based upon customer feedback. There are many under the hood changes (bug fixes, compatibility fixes, performance improvements, and improvements) across the entire dev team that we just don’t have room to discuss here, but we thought you’d enjoy a taste of some changes made by three of our feature teams: Core User Experience, Find & Organize and Devices & Media. The comments in this article come from a variety of verbatim sources, with identifying information withheld. "

Microsoft has been kind enough to provide a list of some of the changes they've made to Windows 7 since the release of their Beta. A large part of the changes are driven by user feedback with a particular focus on improving the interface and accessing different parts of Windows 7. None of the changes are radical but combine together to make using Windows 7 easier and more consistent. I particularly like the adjustments made to the Windows + # shortcut and the addition of Aero Peek to Alt-Tab. Being a keyboard junkie, its changes like this which will help make using Windows 7 a pleasure since it extends all those Windows conventions that I've been using for over a decade now. Anyone see any changes that peak their interest?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

EU to Force Microsoft to Bundle Competing Browsers on Windows and Windows Mobile

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 10:38 AM

"The EU will require Microsoft to package third party browser software with Windows. Furthermore, it will require Microsoft to provide further support efforts to make third party browsers' interface with Windows components like Windows Explorer as efficient as Internet Explorer's. The ruling is set to apply to both desktop Windows OS's and to Windows Mobile for cell phones."

Ah, the EU bureaucrats. With the world economy in tatters, they're still running after Microsoft, salivating for more money. Don't they have better things to do? Or maybe fleecing a big American company is part of their plan for the economic recovery of Europe - I wouldn't put it past them. We all know that Microsoft had some heavy-handed, monopolistic tactics back in the '90s - it's a matter of public record. But in the technology world, that's an eternity ago - politics, and even the law, can't keep up with the ferocious pace of technology and they look like idiots when they try. Read more...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Windows 7 Mobile Broadband Receives Big Industry Support

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 08:48 PM

"Windows 7's Mobile Broadband enhancements give people a more reliable way to connect to the Internet using a wireless modem. Taking advantage of this feature is just like connecting to any other wireless network, and is done using the View Available Networks feature. A consistent experience for customers on top of a common infrastructure for partners to build off of enables several benefits including lower support, maintenance, deployment and management costs."

If you've ever had to fight with a dysfunctional WiFi connection tool, usually in the form of "bonus" software that comes with your laptop, you'll appreciate the fact that Microsoft is going to integrate wide-area network connectivity right into Windows 7. Announced partners include Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Sierra Wireless, T-Mobile, Fujitsu-Siemens, and more - so, basically, the biggest players in the industry. Sounds good - but only if the service providers in my area grab a sanity check and stop charging $60+ per month for the service. I already pay $50/month for Internet access at home and $30/month to get data on my phone - I refuse to tack another $60 onto that, at least as long as I can tether my Windows Mobile smartphone to my laptop and get Internet access everywhere.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Windows 7 SKUs Announced: Yeah, There's Six Of Them

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 03:34 PM

"We've received great feedback from customers and partners through Windows XP and Windows Vista, and have learned a lot about how to communicate what's available in different editions of the operating system. At the same time, we have a customer base of over 1 billion along with many partners, so it's important to make sure the right edition of Windows with the right features set is available for them. The first change in Windows 7 was to make sure that editions of Windows 7 are a superset of one another. That is to say, as customers upgrade from one version to the next, they keep all features and functionality from the previous edition. As an example, some business customers using Windows Vista Business wanted the Media Center functionality that is in Windows Vista Home Premium but didn't receive it in Business edition. Customers won't have to face that trade-off with Windows 7. With Windows 7 there is a more natural progression from one edition to the next."

Well, it's official: Windows 7 will have six different versions. My initial reaction is to groan, but upon reading the full Q&A, the reality is a bit better than I thought (though not by much). If this plays out the way Windows General Manager Mike Ybarra says it will, you should only see three version of Windows 7 when you're shopping for a new computer, either online or in a store: Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional Business, and Windows 7 Ultimate. The other versions, which are Enterprise, Basic, and Starter, will be available only through specific channels - Starter only in emerging markets, Basic only from OEMs and for specific hardware, and Enterprise only for IT groups (your typical big-business types). Read more...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

How to Create a Deep Zoom Photo Album

Posted by John Lane in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 09:30 AM[p...MC-R3A917316679

"Deep Zoom, an Ajax-powered online viewer that lets you view, zoom, and pan through high-resolution photos and images in a way that is incredibly fast and smooth, regardless of the original image's pixel density. Companies adopting this tech include the Hard Rock Café, which utilizes it in its music memorabilia showcase."

Deep Zoom Composer is Microsoft software that lets you build a collage of your photos to post on your website. Its unique function is that builds an image that you can zoom in and out and move around very easily. The link will take you to a step-by-step guide that walks you through building your own and it is very easy to use. Check it out!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Windows 7 Is All About Usability

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 11:00 AM

"Once more unto the breach, dear friends. The first iteration of Microsoft’s next operating system has arrived, and things are looking up for the Windows faithful. In fact, the first beta of Windows 7 is so reliable and responsive that it reminds us of the early Windows XP betas. With less than 12 months to go before launch, Windows 7 is in much better shape than Vista was at the same time, and it feels like a much more usable operating system than even XP did during its beta phase."

The Windows 7 beta has been out for over a week now and MaximumPC has been putting it through its paces. Under the hood, Windows 7 draws a lot from Vista, however, the interface has changed drastically. The taskbar, networking, media playback and even how you interact with windows have been updated. Many of the changes look nice and make sense, such as the taskbar morphing into a task manager/quicklaunch/recent documents controller. However the only downside I see is after having spent 10+ years getting used to the Windows 95 interface legacy, I'm going to be real stubborn about learning a new interface, despite how beneficial it might be. I applaud change, especially ones that help, but I know more than one person who has kept with Office 2003 because they loathe Office 2007's ribbon interface. I strongly suspect that that will be Microsoft's greatest challenge, convincing people that they need to move past Windows XP. Anyone else with me, or should I pull up my pants and tell everyone to get off my lawn?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

What Windows 7 and its Beta is All About

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 03:00 AM;title

"Windows PCs have always represented a great value relative to other companies in the marketplace, both in terms of the whole range of price points and all the capabilities that you get out of the box. Given the economic situation, as shareholders would expect us to tighten our belt, but with the things that are most important, and customers would expect us to do that while continuing to innovate. And this is why even in this touch economic situation it's exciting to be able to look at the product pipeline we've got with Internet Explorer 8, Windows 7 and Windows Live...and the next generation of Windows Live, and look at all of the advances that we're offering to customers. A Windows PC is an unbelievable entertainment investment."

Bill Veghte is currently at CES stirring up interest in Windows 7. While the public beta is now available, CNet was unable to get Veghte to commit to a firm release date raising some questions as to whether it'll meet hopes that it will be released this year. However, a good portion of CNet's interview with Microsoft's Senior Vice President was spent emphasizing Windows 7's flexibility and focus on consumer needs, going so far as actively soliciting feedback during this beta period. I'm eager to set up a test computer to try out all the new features that I've been reading about. Fortunately, the requirements for Windows 7 aren't steep and in fact, very similar to Windows Vista. Anyone else going to try out the beta?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Microsoft at CES 2009: Keynote Highlights

Posted by Darius Wey in "Digital Home Events" @ 03:45 AM

After a few minutes of beatboxing and a seemingly enthusiastic Gary Shapiro introducing Steve Ballmer on to the stage, Microsoft's keynote was under way. This was Ballmer's first keynote at CES since taking over from Bill Gates, who delivered it for the first time almost 15 years ago and has traditionally done so up until last year. The question on everyone's mind was whether this keynote would be as memorable as the last. In a time when the very word, "recession", strikes fear into both consumers and businesses, would Microsoft have enough up its sleeve to turn 2009 into a year of ambition, innovation, and prosperity?


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Microsoft at CES: Keynote at 6:30 PM, PST

Posted by Darius Wey in "Digital Home Events" @ 10:55 AM

In a little under nine hours, Steve Ballmer and Robbie Bach will deliver the Microsoft keynote at CES. What's in store for Windows, Windows Mobile, Windows Live, Office, the Xbox 360, and Zune? You'll have to tune in at 6:30 PM (PST) to find out, or simply wait for our post-keynote report. Whatever tickles your fancy.

  • Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Seattle: Wednesday, 6:30 PM
  • Chicago, Houston: Wednesday, 8:30 PM
  • New York, Washington, D.C.: Wednesday, 9:30 PM
  • London: Thursday, 2:30 AM
  • Paris, Berlin: Thursday, 3:30 AM
  • Moscow: Thursday, 5:30 AM
  • Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong: Thursday, 10:30 AM
  • Perth, Tokyo: Thursday, 11:30 AM
  • Brisbane: Thursday, 12:30 PM
  • Sydney, Melbourne: Thursday, 1:30 PM
  • Auckland: Thursday, 3:30 PM

Live Webcast: 100k, 300k, 750k

Monday, December 29, 2008

Dealing With The New Windows Live Sync Quirks

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 07:00 AM

FolderShare has gone away, and it's been replaced by Windows Live Sync. For the most part, this has been a marked improvement. The product is finally out of beta, and performance is good - I'm seeing my files and folders kick off a sync faster, and complete faster, than with FolderShare. And because most users were stuck at the 10,000 files per library level, the new limit of 20,000 files per library allows them to do much more with Windows Live Sync than they could ever do before.

However...Windows Live Sync is causing me some significant frustrations. The first frustration, and by far the worst of the two, is the fact that I'm capped at 20,000 files per library. Way back when FolderShare was owned by ByteTaxi, I was happily paying $60 USD per year for a professional level account - and that account allowed for 20,000 files per library, and perhaps a bit more, because up until just recently I was able to keep my Pictures folder in sync across all my computers - and that folder has about 22,000 photos in it. Suddenly that became a big problem. Read more...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Look at the New Xbox Experience (NXE)

Posted by Darius Wey in "Digital Home Software" @ 10:15 AM

It's been three years since Microsoft released the Xbox 360, and with the release of new hardware and new services, huge gaming announcements, and price drops, suffice it to say that it's come a long way since then. But with all that was introduced, one thing that remained stale was the Blades interface. It actually was and still is a solid interface, but in an age where online content rules, Blades certainly could have used a few tweaks to give it a little more shine. Microsoft went one better, though. In the early hours of yesterday morning (Pacific time), a switch was flicked and the highly-anticipated New Xbox Experience (NXE) was made available to each and every Xbox 360 owner.

I had the pleasure of using NXE before its release, and used that opportunity to explore it in its entirety. This article focuses on some of the key features NXE brings to the table, so if you're interested in learning more, read on!


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Visiting Zune HQ for the Zune 3.0 Briefing

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Events" @ 01:10 PM

Along with my fellow Zune MVPs, nine of us in total, I spent Monday September the 8th visiting the Zune headquarters in Redmond, Washington. The MVPs in attendance were Chris Leckness from Got Zune, Patrick Heffner from Zune Tracks, Graham Skee from AnythingbutiPod, Drea from Beetstro, Harvey Chute from Zunerama, Paul Colligan from Zuneluv, Neville Williams from Inside the Circle, Stephan Shipman from Ihaveazune, and me. Here's what I learned about Zune 3.0. Read more...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Purchase Microsoft Points With Your Phone... In Japan

Posted by Darius Wey in "Digital Home News" @ 10:30 AM

What if filling up on Microsoft Points was as easy as picking up your phone and having the cost added to your phone bill? That's how it is for NTT DoCoMo users in Japan, and hopefully, that's just a starting point.

If Microsoft is working with other carriers to make this available around the world, great. If not, they probably should. A vast majority of Xbox Live Marketplace and Zune Marketplace users probably have a mobile device of some sort - some have their reasons against directly linking their Windows Live ID and credit card together, while others don't always want to make the trek to their local store to pick up one of the many Microsoft Points cards on offer, so this third option makes a lot of sense.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Microsoft Walks Away From Yahoo!

Posted by Darius Wey in "Digital Home News" @ 07:23 AM

"Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) today announced that it has withdrawn its proposal to acquire Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO). "We continue to believe that our proposed acquisition made sense for Microsoft, Yahoo! and the market as a whole. Our goal in pursuing a combination with Yahoo! was to provide greater choice and innovation in the marketplace and create real value for our respective stockholders and employees," said Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer of Microsoft. "Despite our best efforts, including raising our bid by roughly $5 billion, Yahoo! has not moved toward accepting our offer. After careful consideration, we believe the economics demanded by Yahoo! do not make sense for us, and it is in the best interests of Microsoft stockholders, employees and other stakeholders to withdraw our proposal," said Ballmer."

What a dramatic three months it's been. The press release continues with a very detailed letter from Ballmer explaining why Microsoft's offering of $5 billion on top of the initial bid wasn't enough for Yahoo!, and why the proxy contest never too place. No Microhoo!, I guess. Now, I wonder if Goohoo! is on the cards.

Update: Yahoo! shares fell 22% in pre-market trading. NYSE opens in under an hour.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Microsoft Increases Offer By Several Dollars, Yahoo! Happy?

Posted by Darius Wey in "Digital Home News" @ 09:45 PM

"After a months-long standoff, Microsoft and Yahoo are in active merger talks, a person involved in the discussions said. Microsoft, which had threatened to abandon its bid, has increased its offer “by several dollars,” this person said. The merger talks represent an enormous breakthrough following weeks of behind-the-scenes discussions without any progress. Exact terms being discussed could not be learned. The talks would explain the silence from Microsoft this week as it has refused to disclose its plans, despite threatening to bring a proxy contest if Yahoo didn’t reach a deal with it by last Saturday. Seven days have passed without any announcement from Microsoft about how it intends to proceed."

Well, this is certainly a more civil approach to the proposed acquisition, and it would explain why Microsoft has been so tight-lipped on the matter this week. Will we actually see Microhoo! emerge at the end of all this? Time will tell.

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