Free Xbox 360 With Purchase Of Windows 7 Based PC For Students [US Only]

Students in the US will now get a complimentary 4GB Xbox 360 game console with the purchase of a Windows 7 based PC that costs at least $699. The deal starts from May 22 and the offer is open to students who order online from retailers (Microsoft, Dell, HP or Best Buy) using a .edu email address or displaying a valid student ID at the brands’ retail stores.

Free Xbox 360 With Windows 7 PC
A hot new Windows 7-based PC with a free Xbox 360 is the ultimate productivity, social and entertainment package for students,said Kathleen Hall, general manager of Windows Marketing at Microsoft, in a press release. In one shot, with this great offer, Microsoft is giving students everything they need for a successful new school year.he added.

For more information on retailers list and other details go to www.windows.com/freexbox (The link redirects to Windows’ Facebook Page). The offer lasts until September 3 in the US, and is to be implemented in France and Canada as well.

Via Technolog

Rumor: Microsoft to Buy Nokia’s Mobile Division?

On the face of it, it seems like just another outrageous rumor being spread just to garner clicks and pageviews. But when you consider the source of the rumor, and his previous track record, it forces you to think whether or not it might be true.

The rumor is from Eldar Murtazin, the founder of Mobile-review, and his sources have been right more often than not. When he first said that Microsoft and Nokia were in discussions about Nokia using Windows Phone 7 as their primary OS, no one believed it at first, but as we all know, it turned out to be the truth.

Which is why, today, when Eldar said that Microsoft was planning to buy Nokia’s Mobile Division before the end of 2011, no one is doubting that it might turn out to be true, however remote the possibility might be.

@eldarmurtazin : “MS & Nokia deal could be closed in 2011. MS want to buy Nokia Mobile division. No info about price/terms/dates.”

While the deal makes no sense to me, considering that Microsoft has already signed a deal with Nokia which makes Windows Phone 7 the primary OS in all Nokia smartphones, Microsoft has been known to make bold purchases. Nokia’s market cap is currently around $32 billion, so Microsoft could easily buy the whole of it if it wanted to. I’m wondering if it might fit in with Microsoft’s recent buy – Skype.

One reason why Microsoft may want to buy Nokia is because it now wants to finally control its own hardware, like Apple, instead of licensing its OS to other manufacturers to fight Android. In the meanwhile, Nokia’s PR seems to have commented that Eldar’s rumors are ‘getting less accurate with every passing moment.’ Do note that they haven’t clearly denied it, so the rumors may in fact turn out to be true.

Where Does Skype Fit In Microsoft

For quite  while there have been updates about Facebook and Google being interested in Skype. Today, the Wall Street Journal has confirmation that Microsoft is paying somewhere between $7 Billion to $8 Billion to acquire the VoIP telecommunication company. Back in 2005, eBay purchased Skype only to sell it off in 2009. While the business strategy saw ups and downs, Skype’s user base kept growing. According to Wikipedia, Skype had 663 Million registered users and claimed 25 Million users online at the same time not long ago.

Microsoft has Windows Live Messenger on the PC and Kinect (in the consumer market) and Lync (for the corporates) that essentially do what Skype does. So why bother with spending such insane amounts for Skype? The simple answer is maintaining dominance. If Google were get hold of Skype, Google would have a compelling solution for SMBs with Google Apps and Skype for over-the-Internet collaboration. At the same time, all those ~700 Million registered users would be running a Google service.

Skype decided to pull out their Windows Mobile client back in early 2010 and have not been able to do Windows Phone 7 client due to technical restrictions. However, being a cross platform service available on OS X, iOS, Android, Linux and Windows, Microsoft suddenly has a cross-platform communication software by tomorrow.

There is a belief that Microsoft will be coming up their answer to FaceTime for WP7 which will be powered by Lync in the background but might have a different branding, a  re-branded  Skype simply makes Microsoft’s efforts easier. While the number $8 Billion sounds crazy, there were some really smart people at Redmond crunching numbers projecting the worth of this acquisition. Keeping in mind cloud and communication in the next 5 years, Skype as part of Microsoft gives the Redmond company a huge user base and infrastructure that will not be part of either Facebook or Google or Apple.

Image credit: DeviantArt

Apple is Now the Most Valuable Brand in the World

With the success of the iPhone and the iPad, Apple’s sales, profits, market capitalization are all growing at an explosive rate. Apple surpassed Microsoft in terms of market capitalization almost an year back to become the 2nd most valuable company in the world. In the last quarter, it also overtook Microsoft in terms of profits. It is now sitting on almost $65 billion in cash, and has a market cap of almost $320 billion.

Today, it has scored yet another victory – it has become the most valuable brand in the world. According to a study by WPP BrandZ, Apple brand value has increased by 84% over the past year, making it the most valuable brand at $153 billion. It has overtaken Google which is now at the second position with a brand value of $111 billion.

A notable entrant in the top 100 list is Facebook which is at number 35 with a brand value of $19.1 billion, with a 246% increase over last year. IBM and Microsoft came in at the third and fifth positions with brand values of $100 billion and $78 billion respectively.

Apple

Windows 8 Cloud Features Detailed [Screenshots]

Last year, a bunch of presentations detailing planned Windows 8 enhancements were leaked. Those documents gave us a glimpse of what Microsoft was planning for the next iteration of Windows. It was obvious that one of the key differentiators for Windows 8 is going to be cloud integration. Back then, I wrote:

With Windows 8, user accounts will finally become user centric. Your cloud based user account will follow you, from machine to machine.

Now, some leaked screenshots and some sleuthing from MDL forum members, have thrown up a fair amount of concrete information on Window 8’s cloud integration. According to Microsoft, more than 52% PC users work on multiple computers on a regular basis. In order to make switching between workstations effortless, Windows 8 will be introducing ‘Roaming Profiles’. When you logon to different devices using your ‘connected password’, your settings will be automatically transferred to the device. The ‘Roaming Options’ Control Panel item will allow you to add or remove the following from your roaming profile:

  • Desktop Wallpaper
  • Aero Glass Color
  • Ease of access control panel
  • Magnifier
  • On screen keyboard
  • Narrator
  • Speech recognition settings
  • Language profile
  • Text prediction preferences
  • IME dictionary
  • Application settings and search history
  • Windows Taskbar settings
  • Windows Explorer settings
  • Windows Search settings
  • Windows Mouse settings
  • Wireless network profiles
  • Saved website credentials

Windows-8-Roaming-Profile

Interestingly enough, as pointed out by Long Zheng, Windows 8 seems to have the ability to detect if you are using a metered internet connection, or a connection with low bandwidth cap.

Windows-8-Roaming-Profile

Furthermore, another MDL forum member has posted a screenshot that shows the cloud authentication feature in action. Windows 8 will provide the option of either logging in as a local user, or logging in using cloud identification. Quite obviously, Microsoft will be tapping into the Windows Live network for the cloud oriented features.

Windows-8-Cloud-Logon

The public beta of Windows 8 is still several months away. In the meantime, if you want to get a taste of Windows 8, go ahead and download the leaked Windows 8 M2 (pre-M3) release.

More Windows 8 Tidbits Revealed – History Vault, TouchScreen Gestures, Immersive Browser, and Black Screen of Death

Windows 8, the successor to the largely well-received Windows 7, is slated to be released next year. Public beta testing should commence later this year; however, you don’t have to wait that long to get a taste of Windows 8. Just a few hours back, an M2 (Milestone 2) build of Windows 7 was leaked, and it’s already available on popular torrent trackers. However, using a leaked build has its own caveats and risks, and is not for the faint hearted. If you don’t want to subject yourself to the trouble of frequently installing and re-installing leaked Windows 8 releases, we suggest that you do the next best thing – subscribe to Techie Buzz! We will be continuously bringing you the latest scoops about Microsoft’s next big operating system.

We already know that Windows 8 will feature a Ribbon interface for Explorer, have an improved task manager, support pattern logon, include webcam and PDF reader apps out of the box, and include an app store. Windows 8 will also introduce a new packaged application model called AppX. Another new feature, which is aimed squarely at tablet users, is Immersive browser. We mentioned it briefly in a previous article. However, thanks to the M2 build leaked yesterday, we now have a better look at the Immersive browser, which is similar in appearence to Internet Explorer for Windows Phone 7, but features the desktop Trident engine.

Immersive Browser Screenshots
Immersive-Browser-Tabs
Immersive-Browser-Address-Bar
Source: Neowin

Neowin also spotted an YouTube video demonstrating some pretty nifty new touchscreen gestures and effects.

TouchScreen Gestures and Effects

Another major new feature in Windows 8 is “History Vault”. In simple terms it’s a front-end for the “Shadow Copy” feature that was introduced in Windows Vista (Windows XP had a rudimentary implementation of this feature). The “History Vault” will provide quick access to previous versions of documents and files backed up automatically by Shadow Copy. This will finally make Shadow Copy accessible to even non-technical Windows users. Apple’s TimeMachine interface still makes this look like a hack job, but as they say, something is better than nothing.

History Vault Screenshot
Windows-8-History-Vault
Source: WinRumors

The final bit of news from WinRumors isn’t exactly a feature, but is interesting nonetheless. The leaked builds of Windows 8 feature a black screen of death instead of the infamous blue screen of death (BSoD) for stop errors. No one likes to see a BSod; however, it’s one of the most well known (and ridiculed) aspect of a Windows system. It has become a pop-culture legend on its own right. Black screen might conserve power, appear more slick, or whatever; but, I know that I will feel a tinge of sadness if Microsoft finally decides to ditch the BSoD. The BSoD has secured it’s own place in the pop-culture, and is one of the things we love to hate about Windows. Hopefully, this is only a temporary move, and the BSoD will be back by the time we are ready for the RTM (Release to Manufacturing) build.

Windows 8 Black Screen of Death Video

Source: WinRumors

Windows 8 M2 (Build 7955) Leaked

WindowsAlthough Microsoft has been sharing Windows 8 test builds with trusted partners for several months, us mere mortals had to wait until early April to get a taste of Windows 8. However, the flood gates seem to have opened, and we have another leak on our hands.

BetaArchive, the forum responsible for leaking Windows 8 M1, has done it once again. This time, they have managed to get hold of Windows 8 Build 7955 (6.2.7955.0). This build is a lot newer than the earlier build. If I am not mistaken, it is the final build of the Milestone 2 (M2) tree. According to the notes provided by the releaser,

  • You can unlock the following:
    • Ribbon UI
    • Application Folder (now working, in 7850 it was broken)
    • Full DWM (hideblur)
  • The following requires the ”red pill”:
  • Webcam
  • Login (that ugly guy with ctrl+alt+del, the fishy wallpaper, pattern login)
  • TaskUI (new taskmanager)
  • PDF Reader
  • Immersive Browser

At the moment Windows 8 M2 is available for download only on the private BetaArchive FTP server; however, it should begin popping up in various torrent websites in an hour or so. As always, keep in mind that installing a leaked build is fraught with danger. Besides the risk that it might have been tampered with, you might experience severe performance and stability issues. The file released by BA has the MD5 hash 40861A02CB14B0D2D7930910DB6CC6E4 and is a 2.47GB (2,657,079,296 bytes) download.

Windows 8 to Feature a Pattern Logon Screen for TouchScreen Users [Video]

The folks at MyDigitalLife have done it again. A user has managed to uncover a pattern logon screen in Windows 8 that is similar to the authentication system found in Android. Previously, MDL forum members had managed to unlock several hidden features like Ribbon UI (user interface) for Windows Explorer, Advanced Task Manager, native PDF viewer, and native WebCam application.

The pattern logon screen is obviously targeted at touchscreen users, although it can also be operated using a mouse. Windows 8 is being designed from the ground-up keeping multiple form factors in mind. It will be the first version of Windows to support ARM chipsets, which power majority of the handheld devices (including tablets). Other tablet oriented features we have seen includes a more touchscreen friendly task manager, and an immersive version of Internet Explorer. Immersive Internet Explorer uses the desktop Trident rendering engine, but has a tile-based user interface similar to IE for Windows Phone 7.

Windows-8-Pattern-Logon-Screen

The undesirability of Windows 7 as a tablet operating system has already left Microsoft playing catchup in, what Apple terms as, the “post-PC” segment. Once again, Android seems to be the only operating system that can mount a serious challenge to the iOS. Microsoft will need to do a lot more than just integrate bits and pieces of Metro and Ribbon, if it hopes to catchup. Windows M3 was released to trusted partners on March 29. If and when that build gets leaked, we should get a better idea about the direction Microsoft intends to take with Windows 8. In the meanwhile, check out this video to watch the new logon interface in action.

Nokia Biggest Contributor to Android Codebase After Google, Individuals

Earlier this year, Nokia, the biggest phone manufacturer in the world decided to join forces with Microsoft to create their next lineup of smartphones. The decision surprised many as people thought that Nokia would play it safe and develop phones using both Windows Phone 7 and .

Android Contributors

In the process, Nokia made their flagship OS a secondary in the company and Android as a competitor. However, this news might come as a big surprise to many people.

According to research done by Libre Software Research (via Carlodaffara), Nokia is the biggest contributor to Android source code after Google and some other independent committers. In fact Nokia has more commits in the codebase than Motorola, and Intel.

Having a look at the name of the domains, it is very surprising that Nokia is one of the most active contributors. This is a real paradox, the company that states that Android is its main competition helps it!. One of the effects of using libre software licenses for your work is that even your competition can use your code, currently there are Nokia commits in the following repositories:

  • git://android.git.kernel.org/platform/external/dbus
  • git://android.git.kernel.org/platform/external/bluetooth/bluez

The research shows that 90% of the commits to Android codebase was done by Google employees using email addresses ending with google.com or android.com, while users with a nokia.com email address had more than 762 commits.

Apparently Nokia was the one who funded the dbus; a message bus system for applications to talk to each other and bluez; the official Bluetooth protocol stack for Linux which were later on taken up by Google for Android.

This is definitely an irony that Nokia contributes so much to a system it calls it’s competition. However, that is how the Open Source community works, no bias, just code.

Note: The research conducted by Libre Software took 171 GIT repositories into consideration and did not include the Linux Kernel in it’s analysis.

Unlock Ribbon UI for Windows Explorer, and Other Hidden Features in Windows 8 with Windows 8 Tweaker

After a long wait, a Windows 8 build was finally leaked a few days back. The leaked build was a pretty old M1 build, but that didn’t stop thousands of Windows enthusiasts from taking it for a spin. At first glance, it appeared to be, by and large, identical to Windows 7.However, NaiveUser from MyDigitalLife forums managed to unlock quite a few interesting features including Ribbon UI (user interface) for Windows Explorer.

NaiveUser succeeded in enabling several locked features through simple registry tweaks. However, if registry editing is not your cup of tea, then fear not, as the folks at Windows8Beta have released the first Windows 8 tweaking utility.

Windows-8-Tweaker

Windows 8 Tweaker is a straightforward application that enables the following hidden Windows 8 features:

1. Ribbon UI for Windows Explorer: Windows 7 saw Microsoft adding the popular Ribbon UI, which was first seen in Office 2007, to applications like Paint and WordPad. With Windows 8, Microsoft is going a step further, and incorporating the Ribbon interface in the Windows Explorer itself.

2. PDF Reader: PDF (Portable Document Format) is now an open standard, and a virtually universal file format. Microsoft has finally decided to stop messing around with its own document formats, and has added a native PDF reader to Windows 8. However, like the Ribbon UI, this feature is also locked down in Windows 8 build 7850.

3. Advanced Task Manager: Windows 8 will feature a significantly improved and touch-screen friendly task manager. The advanced task manager, seen in the screenshot below, sports a new “dashboard” that will provide a quick overview of various resource usages (CPU, memory, disk, and network). Also present in the new task manager is a new section for startup processes, and a revamped process and application manager.

Windows-8-Task-Manager

4. Webcam Application: The final feature that the Windows8 Tweaker unlocks is a native webcam app. The app itself is pretty bare bones, but it gets the job done.

If you have installed the leaked Windows 8 build, then go ahead and grab the Windows 8 Tweaker from here. Don’t forget to chime in with your opinion about the new Windows 8 features in the comments section.