With CES 2011 around the corner, Microsoft is grabbing quite a bit of attention given the expectations for an iPad competitor. Here is a round up of the rumors:
New version of Windows (for Tablets) Windows 8?
Traditional media outlets grabbed attention with news that Microsoft is planning a new version of Windows for tablets that will run on ARM chips as well. These rumors were taken to the next step with Business Insider claiming Windows 8 will make an appearance at CES 2011. My belief is that we will not see a new version of Windows and especially no Windows 8. What we are most likely to see is a new configuration of Windows Embedded Compact for tablets. This fits in well with the ARM rumors since Windows Compact is supported for the said chipset. Microsoft in 2010 at Computex talked about Windows Embedded Compact for tablets and it was expected to hit RTM in early 2011.
Verizon/Sprint Windows Phone 7 & WP7 SP1
There have been two rumors for Microsoft’s new phone platform. Microsoft is expected to push out the first update for the OS in January and it was expected that CES 2011 would be where Steve Ballmer might make make announcements regarding it. Ina Fried at All Things D, pointed out that the said update will not be a major upgrade and while I do expect Steve Ballmer talking about WP7, the update might not be announced at CES 2011.
Yesterday, the blogosphere was abuzz with rumors that Microsoft will announce their competitor for the TV services. I take this with a pinch of salt since so far Microsoft has positioned the Xbox as your media extender for the living room. Microsoft in the UK has had a partnership with Sky for bringing TV content to the Xbox. The interesting part of the service is being able to sit with friends in a virtual room and together viewing TV.
Tom Warren from WinRumors pointed out that Microsoft has had Windows Embedded providing the features pointed out by Seattle Times. Here’s a video of Windows Embedded with Windows Media Center UI:
Microsoft also has Mediaroom in the US for TV. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Windows Embedded for TV with Mediaroom.
Xbox Kinect Avatar
According to a leaked slide, Microsoft is expected to announce a new Xbox Kinect update Avatar Kinect. Users will be able to interact with each using Kinect and their Xbox LIVE avatars.
At Apple’s WWDC Microsoft showed Bing with animated backgrounds (video below) and with the focus on HTML5 for IE9, Bing is expected to role out some major updates soon. We might see a glimpse during Microsoft’s annual designer conference MIX 2011.
According to a job position that Microsoft is looking to fill in New York, they are looking for a user experience designer who can work with animation tools like TweenMx, motion graphic tools like Flash or After Effects. Yes, the job application mentions Flash (side note: Yuck!) along with the usual web development languages, CSS, HTML etc.
In another job application, Microsoft is looking for a UX Designer who can build mockups, wireframes and prototypes (probably the UX designed by the one who fills the job above?). Here’s the HTML5 version of Bing:
How can it be Windows without a blue screen, right? Well, the developers at InfinitiesLoop Entertainment seemed to be missing it on the Windows Phone 7 so much that they decided to bring it on the phone, with an app.
The app is available on the Zune App Marketplace for free and all does is displays a blue screen on your phone. Here’s the beautiful blue screen on a Samsung Focus:
Look quite real, I wonder why this isn’t a featured app on the marketplace.
Microsoft today opened their 7th retail in Bellevue , Washington. The ribbon was cut by Steve Ballmer to a cut down of 7 since this is store number 7 and the success of Windows 7, Windows Phone 7. Microsoft seems to have developed a fixation for 7 recently. Here’s a video of Steve B doing the honors with COO Kevin Turner:
What did Microsoft do that puts libraries at risk?
They retired Windows SteadyState. In case you haven’t heard about it, SteadyState is a free application for Windows XP and Vista which completely protects a Windows operating system from everything except a hardware crash. It makes Windows almost bullet-proof. Thousands of home users, internet cafes, schools and public libraries depend on SteadyState for protection. However, it won’t be available for Windows 7.
According to Yardena,
â€¦ not only is SteadyState incompatible with Win7, Microsoft says it has no plans to introduce a Windows 7-compatible version. That’s leaving some IT managers scrambling for replacement technology and others vowing not to upgrade to Windows 7 at all.
If you settled for the answer given in that Windows Secrets post, you’d give up. In the article, Yardena says:
Third-party solutions, such as Faronics’ Deep Freeze, don’t appeal to cash-strapped educational institutions, which are already spending considerable money upgrading to Windows 7.
Worse yet, if you listen to Microsoft, they’ll tell you that you don’t need it. Here’s the Microsoft spin:
We have just released a whitepaper along with an accompanying document that describes Group Policy settings that you can use to configure computer and user settings and also a reference excel worksheet which can be used to look up and filter the settings described in the whitepaper. (source)
Fortunately, a security company named Comodo, recently released a free replacement for Windows SteadyState. As far as I can tell, Comodo Time Machine does nearly everything SteadyState does. It’s currently supported and works in Windows XP, Vista and 7.
If a librarian or teacher came to me and asked about setting up several public computers , I’d have two ready answers for them. I could save them money and practically guarantee that they wouldn’t have any spyware or virus problems.
1. I’d burn a set of Live CD’s with Edubuntu on them. They could disable the hard drives and put these in the CD Rom drives. Whenever the PC boots up, they’d have a fresh new operating system that’s ready to use and kid-proof.
In a campaign called King of the Road Tour, Burger King is having their mascot touring the United States gifting people the Xbox 360 and Kinect bundle. The giveaway is from November 1st to 28th and they claim that they are giving away one every 15 minutes. The bundle includes:
The Xbox 360 Console
Kinect Adventures game
Kinect Sports game
The first person to be given the bundle was at one of their New York outlets. Burger King has posted some videos on their Youtube channel so far showing people’s reaction when they are offered the Xbox 360 bundle, the videos are fun but it does seem creepy when someone with a mask jumps from a tow truck walks towards you and hands you something (second video below). Two of the several videos published so far:
Microsoft’s latest and greatest has been hacked to be controlled on Windows 7. Earlier last week a bounty of $2000 was offered for anyone who could hack and release open source drivers for the Kinect. In a video shared with Gizmodo, the Kinect is being controlled on Windows 7.
Adafruti Industries from New York had offered the reward and in an email to CNET, Torrone from Adafruit said, It’s amazing hardware that shouldn’t just be locked up for Xbox 360. Its radar camera’ being able to get video and distance as a sensor input from commodity hardware is huge.
Video of the Kinect being controlled from Windows 7:
Microsoft and Facebook announced a strategic partnership by which Bing had Instant Personalization features. This means that if you connect Facebook to Bing on your account, search results for queries will be tailored based on your Facebook activities. Mark Zuckerberg went to lengths in order to clarify that there is no breach of privacy and the data available to Bing is only what you’ve set as publicly available.
I’ve talked to quite a Microsoft employees who’ve been a part of Windows Phone 7 and they are all genuinely excited about what they’ve come up with. Microsoft will be handing out Windows Phone 7 devices to all its employees. Paid attendees at Microsoft’s developer conference PDC 10 were given LG WP7 handsets. Some brilliant sleuthing by Daniel Rubino of WPCentral he found out that Bill Gates uses the Samsung Focus:
The Focus will be launching in the US on AT&T starting November 8 and is considered as one of the better WP7 device by reviewers. The AMLOED screen and light weight make it a nice phone to own and now that it has got Bill Gates’ approval, Samsung and AT&T better stock their inventory.
Docs.com, the online office suite by Microsoft Fuse Labs has undergone some major improvements in the last week. This includes support for PDF uploads, using user generated templates, bulk uploading of documents, full text search on documents shared by your Facebook friends and more.
Here is a quick run down of new features added to the Docs.com office suite:
Upload and Share PDF Documents With Facebook Friends
Just as Office 2010 allows you to create PDF documents from Microsoft Word, Docs.com allows you to upload these PDF documents for sharing with your Facebook friends. The developers have added a Silverlight viewer which will let you read PDF files directly within Docs.com. (See example)
So the next time you spot a document on Facebook, there is no need to download the Ebook and send it as an attachment via email. Just copy the Ebook to your Docs.om account and get the shortened URL of the PDF. Then share the link via Twitter, IM or email and your friends can read the PDF directly from the browser, the viewers do not need a Facebook account to read the document. To upload documents from your computer, head over to docs.com/upload.
Creating User Generated Templates
If you are sharing or collaborating with a group of friends, you might not want others to change the format or content of your document. Instead, you would want them to create a copy of the document and edit it the way they want.
Docs.com now supports user generated templates, which will allow your friends to copy the document to their account as a template. Then your friends may edit the document, add or remove content and share it back.
To allow templates, go to your document sharing options and click the “Advanced options” link. Then choose “Viewers can use the document as a template”.
Full Text Search
Earlier, Docs.com allowed users to search for people, tags and pages. Now Docs.com allows you to perform full text search within your documents as well as within the documents shared by your friends. So if you are interested in a document that discusses “Basics of Internet marketing” and search for it, Docs.com will search for the exact phrase within the documents shared by you and your Facebook friends. Neat!
In addition to this, the search results will be ranked according to the relationship of the author with you on Facebook, how many “Shares” or “Likes” it has received. This is very useful, because the documents shared by your friends are ranked higher in the search results.
Of late, Microsoft has been having somewhat of a rough time. On the Mobile space, Apple rocked the world this year with the iPad and the iPhone 4 and Google is making steady inroads with Android, while Microsoft is yet to release Windows Phone 7. Even on the web, Microsoft is struggling to make a breakthrough. In fact, the Redmond based giant’s online division has been bleeding money, even as it continues to try and play catch up. Microsoft remains restricted to its traditional stronghold thanks to the dominance of Windows and Office.
Stung by the criticism, Frank Shaw, Microsoft’s Corporate VP of Corporate Communications, hit back by flaunting the numbers. Amidst all the iPhone and iPad frenzy, it’s quite easy to forget that Microsoft still remains a behemoth that is still doing an incredible job at raking in money.
Here’s a synopsis of the numbers touted by Shaw.
Windows 7: It is the fastest growing OS in the history with 150,000,000 copies sold so far.
PC: While people are busy forecasting the death of the PC, they are still forgetting that the projected PC sales (for 2010) dwarf the iPad and Netbook sales. 355 million PCs are expected to be sold this year, compared to 7.1 million iPads and 58 million Netbooks.
Netbooks: Speaking of Netbooks, this is another market Microsoft dominates. 96% of Netbooks sold in the US run on Microsoft Windows.
Server Market: While the Server market is not amongst Microsoft’s strong points, Linux hasn’t been doing too well either. Its current market share is 21.2%, down from 24% in 2005 and significantly less than the 33% market share it was predicted to achieve by 2007.
Office: 9,000,000 is the total number of customer downloads of the Office 2010 beta.
Xbox Live: With 23 million Xbox Live subscribers, Microsoft outnumbers both Netflix and the largest 25 US daily newspapers combined.
Bing: Bing has also been slowly making progress and gained 21.4 million new users in one year.
Windows Live Hotmail: Hotmail is an oft ignored and frequently derided online property, but it is still a market leader. Hotmail has 360 million users compared to 173 million and 284 million Gmail and Yahoo! users respectively. In fact, with 299 million active Windows Live Messenger accounts, WLM is the most popular instant messaging service in the world.
Net Income: Apple may have passed Microsoft in the market caps, but Microsoft’s net income of $14.5 Billion is still a lot more than Apple’s ($5.7 Billion) or Google’s ($6.5 Billion) net income. Microsoft’s total revenue has also grown from $23.0 billion in 2000 to $58.4 billion in 2009.
If you haven’t already, you need to fix your Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 machines to protect you against a recently discovered flaw. It’s called the HCP Flaw.
Is it dangerous? Yes, all you have to do is view a specially coded page on the net, and your control over your PC can be stolen right out from under you.
Here’s what the problem is. A flaw in the Windows Help and Support Center (helpctr.exe) was discovered recently, and shortly after that, the information telling people how to take advantage of it was also published. It’s good when Windows flaws are reported, but it’s very bad when the information on how to use those flaws is also broadcast. You can bet that there are some black hats out there already infecting PCs with this new flaw.
There is a fix out from Microsoft. Go to this page and click on the Fixbutton to download the fix (KB2219475).
This fixisn’t a real solution. It disables the Help and Support Center in Windows, but if you are like me, you never use it anyway. Some time after Microsoft offers a real update to solve this problem, I’ll go back and re-enable the help center.
People running running Windows 7, Vista, 2000 or Server 2008 are safe from this bug. The affected operating systems are:
Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2, when used with:
Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition (32-bit x86)
Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition (32-bit x86)
Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition (32-bit x86)
Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Web Edition
Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Datacenter x64 Edition
Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise x64 Edition
Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Standard x64 Edition
Microsoft Windows XP Professional x64 Edition
Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition for Itanium-Based Systems
Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition for Itanium-based Systems
Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2, when used with:
Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
Microsoft Windows XP Professional
Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 3, when used with:
Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
Microsoft Windows XP Professional
Office 2010 is yet to be released, but Microsoft has already begun planning for Office 2013 or Office 15. InfoWorld and Microsoft Kitchen has managed to unearth some preliminary information about Office 15.
The first bit of information is that Microsoft has chosen to continue with their recent no-nonsense naming policy and has codenamed Office v15 as simply Office 15.
As far as features are concerned, other than offering a “new visual & interaction experience”, Office 15 will sport drastically improved collaboration tools. Word Program Manager, Jonathan Bailor revealed in an interview, “In Office 15, we’d love to take collaboration and communication to the next level. We’ve unlocked all of these new ways to work and a new set of expectations from users, and we’re like, ‘Put us back in the ring; we’re ready for round two.’ Until coauthoring a document is as easy and ubiquitous as e-mail attachments, our job isn’t done”.
Microsoft employee, Ben Gable, mentioned in his LinkedIn profile that Excel will be getting a major new feature, while an online ad for a test engineer hinted that Outlook will continue working on improved social networking integration.
Microsoft has also been talking about Office Mobile 15 in their job advertisements. Here is a particularly interesting snippet uncovered by Microsoft Kitchen:
Now is your chance to get in on the ground floor of the Office organization’s newest team. The Office Mobile suite includes Communicator Mobile, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, SharePoint, with more applications and capabilities being planned as part of the Office 15 product suite. This unique position involves technical challenges of working across multiple operating systems and devices as well as the chance to work with teams across the company and around the world. Our key focus going forward is designing and developing new end to end Mobile Office scenarios that greatly improve mobile meetings, productivity, and document management. All while taking advantage of the greater computing power, networking, memory, screen & touch, and GPS capabilities on next generation mobile computing platforms
Although there has been rumors that Microsoft will be ditching the Ribbon UI in favor of a completely new interface, given the short timeframe, such a drastic change appears rather unlikely.
What new features would you like to see in Office 2013? Don’t forget to let us know.
XP users, heads up ! Microsoft is soon going to discontinue support for security updates of Windows XP service pack 2. If you’re running one of these versions after support ends, you won’t get security updates for Windows after July 13, 2010.
The security updates for users who are using Windows Vista without any service packs has already been stopped on April 13, 2010. However, Microsoft will provide the necessary security updates to XP users using service pack 3 as usual.
If you are not sure which version or service pack of Windows you are using, click the start menu button, type winver in the search box, and then press “Enter”.
It’s very clear that Microsoft want the users to upgrade to a better and current version of Windows (read Windows 7). But this decision, will surely have an impact on a lot of organizations around the world, assuming that they regularly install the latest updates from Windows.
There are still thousands of homes, offices, schools and other corporate organizations who use Windows XP regularly and stopping the security updates will leave them with no option other than to upgrade to a newer version of Windows.
On this issue, this site has put together some interesting verdicts by security experts. Here is an excerpt:
Companies choosing to not adhere to vendor support lifecycles presents a risk to a network as vulnerabilities exist that can lead to virus outbreaks, breaches in security and potential loss of data
The longer Microsoft continues to support legacy products and applications, Microsoft and its customers will suffer as they will spend effort and energy supporting legacy code instead of ultimately developing new technologies and security measures.
Do you use Windows XP and install the latest Windows updates? Are you going to upgrade to a current version of Windows? Share your thoughts in the comments section.