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All posts tagged "microsoft"

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Microsoft Skydrive Features Enhanced

Posted by Brad Wasson in "Digital Home Talk" @ 05:30 AM

"Microsoft just announced a few small but interesting updates to its cloud storage service SkyDrive. Just like your desktop, SkyDrive will now offer a recycle bin that allows you to recover files you may have accidentally deleted."

If you are using Microsoft's Skydrive cloud storage service you may have noticed a change of late. Their new recycle bin feature allows you to delete and restore files with a few simple clicks. They have also announced that a new Excel-based web survey tool will be included in their Skydrive offering. More details are available by clicking on the Read link.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Best Stand Alone Keyboards

Posted by Richard Chao in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 10:20 PM

"Picking the best keyboard for your needs is tough-everyone will have different opinions once they get their fingers on the keys, but there are definitely a few models that stand out above the rest, and plenty that are probably better than the ones that came with your computer."

Recently, LifeHacker asked its readers to vote on their favorite keyboards. Lifehacker then pulled out the top five keyboards from the list of 600 nominations. The resulting list is comprised of a wide variety of styles. From the thin and light Apple wireless keyboard to the mechanical DAS keyboard. The top five favorites are listed as: Apple wireless keyboard, Microsoft 4000 series, Logitech G series, DAS keyboard and Logitech K series.

Hit the read link to see the readers' reasoning behind their nominations.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Microsoft Welcomes You To Your Home

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 03:30 PM

""More than a decade ago, Microsoft execs, led by Chairman Bill Gates, were touting a future where .Net coffee pots, bulletin boards, and refrigerator magnets would be part of homes where smart devices would communicate and inter-operate. Microsoft hasn't given up on that dream."

Desktop computers, check. Laptops, check. Gaming console, check. Mobile phone, check. Home automation... it looks like Microsoft is intent on offering services for every aspect of your life. Their latest innovation comes to you in the form of HomeOS, a home automation system. Home automation is nothing new, and there are numerous specialized companies ready to offer you fancy, expensive automation systems so you can stand outside your home constantly turning your lights on and off from your phone. If you have an appetite for tinkering, there are more home grown solutions such as LinuxMCE, that while it handles media streaming, also integrates with many other things such as automation and security. Apple is slowly approaching this sort of service as well though right now, it seems mostly just focused on media.

I think that HomeOS could go really well, especially if it integrates with Windows Home Server. It would not make sense if you needed two separate servers to handle your home server-like needs. I have to wonder if there is a great use for this, as them young ones seem to be living a much more mobile lifestyle than before, and whatever you have at home is not as relevant anymore.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Begone Storage Problems With Windows 8!

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 03:00 PM

"Windows 8's new Storage Spaces functionality will easily allow users and system administrators to pool different physical drives together into one logical drive, writes Rajeev Nagar on the Building Windows 8 blog. This functionality, which is similar in some ways to the now-discontinued Windows Home Server Drive Extender, will allow drives of any capacity connected to a PC by USB, SATA, or SAS interfaces to be seen by the OS as one large drive."

Yes! Yesyesyesyes, and oh yes! Like any self-respecting geek, I maintain a NAS at home for all my storage needs. Currently, I use Windows Home Server 2003 and the primary reason for it is a nice little feature called Drive Extender. Basically, it manages your hard drives so that they look like a single drive. Why not use something like RAID or JBOD? Well, RAID, while nice, has limitations that usually are set when you initially set up the array, while JBOD has its own issues with drive failure. Drive Extender manages everything for you so you can stop worrying and just enjoy a mega-terrabyte drive. Microsoft, in its evil ways, decided to cut DE from WHS 2008 so I have been stuck with my existing storage system, but it looks like Windows 8, while not a NAS OS, might let me keep up to date and use newer hard drives!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

XBox Live Update is Your Video Destination

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 05:00 PM

"Microsoft will roll out an update to its Xbox Live platform on Tuesday, which will bring a host of new content to its users. While much of the new content comes from cable and IPTV providers and TV networks, the importance of the update is more in the blending of online and pay TV content, and the ability to surface it side-by-side."

The update to Xbox Live is getting attention for its Kinect capability, but also of note is just how much integration with video services it offers. Out of the box, it will support a lot of premium video services such as Hulu Plus and Netflix, with other services such as YouTube and TMZ coming soon. While all of these services can be had through a desktop computer, tablet, or one of a multitude of other devices, having them all integrated into a single device adds a lot to convenience. I remember years back, hearing about the "battle for the living room" between Sony and Microsoft when the PS2 and original X-box came out. Both kind of floundered with that, but convergence seems to finally be arriving. I suspect that this will eventually make its way over to Windows Phone 7 devices, and possibly, a proper Windows application as well, so if you exist in the Microsoft ecosystem, all can be had in any way you want. It just turns out that your main competitor for the "living room" will more likely be Apple, with its iTunes empire, and the living room is not just the living room, but anywhere where mobile technology exists.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Windows 8: Right or Wrong?

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Software" @ 10:30 AM

"Summary: Ed Bott and Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols debate whether Microsoft's next operating system is headed in the right direction."

Phew, that's quite a long list of arguments for and against Windows 8. Me? I'm not sure. I still am a bit ambivalent about the whole thing. Metro looks awesome, but the whole point of Windows is to run all those programs we are used to running. In a way I see this as a compromise solution for the tablet problem, by not breaking away from the legacy Windows base totally. Sure you can run all those programs, but most likely you will want a program with the Metro UI, coded with the latest framework/APIs.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Xbox Live Coming to Windows 8

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 04:56 PM

The above image is from someone's Flickr account, so I'm not sure if it's real, but Engadget is reporting that Xbox Live is coming to Windows 8. This is impressive - between the Xbox hooked up to a TV, a Windows Phone, and Windows 8 on a PC or tablet, Microsoft has a three-screens entertainment strategy that can actually compete with Apple's iTunes ecosystem. Not bad Microsoft, not bad at all. Note that there's no word "Zune" anywhere in that screen shot, or on the Engadget one. That reinforces to me that the Zune brand is on the way out...but I wonder what they'll re-brand the awesome desktop software to? Xbox doesn't make sense as a media player brand - well, not to me at least.

Windows 8: This is the Future of Windows

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 09:48 AM

"Microsoft is welcoming around 5,000 developers to its BUILD conference today to unveil the most significant change in the PC space since Windows 95. "It's a launch," explains Windows chief Steven Sinofsky. "It's a launch of an opportunity for developers. That's a lot, it's a big deal to do today and tomorrow," he says during an opening address to media and analysts in Anaheim California. You sense the sense of excitement in the room and the realisation that Windows 8 is a really big deal for Microsoft, a deal that cannot go wrong."

It's taken years, but Microsoft has finally delivered a truly workable touch-based interface. Check out the video above; the performance is stunning. Everything is smooth and impressively fluid. Yes, this is a developer's build so it's not finished, but seeing performance like this early on is a great indicator of what's to come. Windows 8 is also significantly lighter on resources than Windows 7; Engadget's post says that Windows 7 SP1 required 404 MB of RAM and had 32 processes running. Compare that to Windows 8 using only 281 MB of RAM and having 28 processes - that's big, big improvement.

Are you excited? I'm excited! More coverage here on Business Insider and Engadget.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Future of the Living Room According to Microsoft

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 01:30 PM

"Summer is a transition time for many people: the break between school years; a vacation before tackling another year of work; and for network television that's been a guest in our living rooms for so long, summer is a time of transition between seasons. It's appropriate then that we are also in the middle of a fundamental transformation of the technology in our living rooms. Traditional broadcast and cable TV are steadily being augmented and enjoyed in new ways such as ‘time-shifted' and on-demand TV via DVRs and other devices like the Xbox, PCs, tablets and even smartphones. Similarly, DVDs are being replaced by on-demand movie delivery via services such as Netflix and Hulu. And the standard 30- or 60-minute commercial program is no longer the only game in town - today's entertainment options are a vast cornucopia of content from ultra-short to full length, all delivered over the Internet."

Over the past decade I've seen a lot of these sorts of things coming from Microsoft - they all look like great ideas, but rarely do they come to fruition. Will this time be different? I'd like to think so - there's some compelling stuff in this video - but I'm not going to hold my breath...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Windows Live Essentials 2011 Update Released

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 07:05 PM

"This week, we will release an update to Windows Live Essentials 2011. In addition to changes that improve performance and quality of service, the update also includes full support for SSL in Windows Live Mail, and the latest Bing bar. Here are a few of things we think you'll find the most interesting: Mail: We fixed a sorting issue in the Sent items folder and improved the upload reliability and instrumentation in Photo mail. Messenger: We fixed a couple of stability issues and made various changes for improved voice and video quality. We fixed an issue that was causing sound to be lost after upgrading, and we improved performance when displaying the MSN Today page in the main window."

The download is available now, so go get it! I don't see Live Mesh listed, but I'm dearly hoping they improved the performance and made it less hard-drive-hammery (it kills performance forever after a reboot).

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Windows 8 Sneak Peek: Well This is Different!

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

"On Wednesday, Microsoft offered the first glimpse of Windows 8, a sneak peek that reveals much about both the influences and the strategic goals of the major overhaul of Microsoft's 25-year-old operating system. The fundamental goal with the new operating system, which is being shown for the first time at D9, is to create something that is equally well at home on an 8-inch tablet as it is on a powerful desktop attached to a huge monitor."

Microsoft is serious about the Metro UI being part of their product line-up, and we can see that in action in the screen shot above (check out the source article for a high-res image). This looks like what you'd expect it Microsoft transformed Windows Phone 7 into a tablet UI: Live Tiles more appropriate for a device with a big screen, a panoramic pivot view, and some extremely funky colours. I still have severe reservations around the performance and battery life of a tablet running full-blown Windows (even based on ARM), but I'm excited to see Microsoft going after this hard by betting on a radically different UI overlay.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Looking into the Future with Windows 8

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 02:30 PM

"The rumors are coming in fast but, as with any unreleased software, it’s hard to be certain which of the rumored features will make it into the final product, which will wind up on the cutting room floor, and which never existed in the first place. We’ve taken a look at all the rumors, all the leaked screenshots, and a few screens we’re pretty sure were flat-out faked, and we’re ready to make a few prognostications about what to expect in Windows 8. We’ll approach this category-by-category."

After giving Windows XP a very long reign over the desktop, it seems that Microsoft has pushed forward its OS release schedule. Windows 7 is barely 2 years old and all the Microsoft buzz is now around Windows 8, coming soon to a computing device near you. Lots of new potential features adorn the beta versions of Windows 8 and it is fun to guess which features will make it and which will not. Of the more interesting ones to me would be the Windows App Store storefront where you can purchase programs online. While it may seem very much like a mee-too thing, the fact of the matter is that this is the trend to where most people are buying their programs, whether it is games through a system like Steam, or Apple's App Store, or the Android Market. Not including such a feature simply does not make sense.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Microsoft's PhotoDNA Technology Used to Combat Child Pornography at Facebook

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 01:00 PM

"As online photo sharing has exploded so has, tragically, the distribution of child pornography. But while the rise of the Internet and digital cameras have revived a scourge that had nearly been eliminated in the late 1980s, new technology may also help to beat it back again. Microsoft says it has refined a technology it created called PhotoDNA to identify the worst of these disturbing images - even if they are cropped or otherwise altered - and cull through large amounts of data quickly and accurately enough to police the world's largest online services. And on Thursday, it will announce that Facebook will be the first service to join it in using the free technology, which Microsoft donated to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in December 2009."

It's great that Microsoft donated this technology and Facebook is implementing it - anything photo hosting companies can do to prevent child pornographers from amassing and sharing their collections of filth is a good thing. The key weakness here is that this technology isn't based on age/face recognition, it's based on pattern matching from a known database of images. It's a start, but it doesn't stop newly generated images from being shared everywhere until it's captured and put into the database. I feel a lot of admiration, but also sympathy, for the people that are on the front lines in this fight - they must have some awful images burned into their brains.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Microsoft & Skype: Fantasy History

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 11:06 AM

Microsoft's purchase yesterday of Skype (barring any barriers that is) reminded me of a piece of Microsoft technology that I was keeping in storage - so I thought I'd do a quick photo-hack job and play a little "what if" game. Are there any readers of this site that owned this particular product? It was quite amazing for its time - I remember being upset when no drivers were created for Windows 2000, thus ending my use of the product (before Windows XP came out, Windows 2000 was *it* baby!). It had insanely cool functionality for the time - including voice command dialling, caller ID announcement, and it would link up with your contacts program on the desktop computer. Frankly, when I look at how "dumb" my landline phone is, I'd love to see something like this, updated with newest technology - like, say, Skype!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Microsoft Buys Skype: This is Good for Windows Phone 7 and Windows Tablets

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Windows Phone News" @ 09:13 AM

"Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: "MSFT") and Skype Global S.à r.l today announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Microsoft will acquire Skype, the leading Internet communications company, for $8.5 billion in cash from the investor group led by Silver Lake. The agreement has been approved by the boards of directors of both Microsoft and Skype...With 170 million connected users and over 207 billion minutes of voice and video conversations in 2010, Skype has been a pioneer in creating rich, meaningful connections among friends, families and business colleagues globally...Skype will support Microsoft devices like Xbox and Kinect, Windows Phone and a wide array of Windows devices, and Microsoft will connect Skype users with Lync, Outlook, Xbox Live and other communities. Microsoft will continue to invest in and support Skype clients on non-Microsoft platforms."

I was initially a bit skeptical of the Skype purchase - and boy, I'm impressed that Microsoft and Skype were able to keep this a secret until just before the announcement - but upon further reflection (and reading the thoughts of others) I think this is a good move. Windows Live Messenger already has voice and video capabilities, but it never attained the mindshare and usage patterns of Skype. Skype has become a verb, and owning a verb in our world is a powerful thing. The biggest news for Windows Phone users is that you can bet powerful and deep integration into Windows Phone is now on the map. Skype's huge user base is nothing to scoff at, and if Windows Phone becomes the premiere Skype platform - especially as VOIP usage continues to soar - that can only mean good things for Windows Phone, and for the future tablet-optimized version of Windows 8.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Windows 8 to Support "Portable Workspace" on USB Flash Drives

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 09:42 AM

"An early copy of Windows 8 leaked to the Internet this week and enthusiasts have been digging their way through the various new bits in Microsoft's next-generation operating system. Windows 8 build 7850.0.winmain_win8m1.100922-1508 contains a number of references to a brand new feature in Windows: Portable Workspaces. Microsoft will allow Enterprise customers to create USB storage driven copies of Windows. "Portable Workspace is a Windows feature that allows you to run Windows from a USB storage device," notes Microsoft in its description of the feature inside Windows 8. Users at mydigitallife unveiled the features inside 7850 and discovered that the feature requires at least 16GB of space."

I've been wondering what sorts of new features would be a part of Windows 8, and it looks like we have something truly unique: the ability to create a bootable, portable version of Windows 8 that you can put on a 16 GB or bigger flash drive and do everything from. Lots of questions remain: what sort of functionality will you actually get given when you connect to a different PC you'll be using generic drivers for video, networking, etc.? Still, it's a neat idea with some interesting potential.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Peeking Into The Features Of Windows 8

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 02:30 PM

"Rafael Rivera posted a number of screenshots on Monday that reveal Microsoft’s “Immersive” browser in Windows 8. Rivera speculates that the application is designed to run full screen only and that he is witnessing limitations trying to enable it on a pre-beta version of Windows 8. “One clue to the Immersive UI, however, exists in a new Immersive version of Internet Explorer, which looks and works much like Windows Phone’s IE Mobile, but uses the desktop IE 9 renderer,” writes Rivera."

With the release of Windows 8 slowly approaching, it looks as if the Microsoft PR engine is starting up and we're getting a better look at what Windows 8 will have to offer. The influence from the smartphone and tablet market is obvious; the most obvious is the Windows applicaiton store. Though I would argue that services like X-box live arcade, Steam and even going back in a more basic form, linux distro repositories are all ancestors of the what we now think of as an app store.

The quasi-unification of the user interface between smartphones, tablets and desktops is also interesting, but I worry that we might lose something in the translation. They are separate form factors, and what is most efficent for one is not for another. Must we have the same thing for everything? A supreme jack of all trades UI?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

PC Makers Get First Hands-On With Windows 8

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Software" @ 03:30 PM

"Microsoft has shipped the first test version of Windows 8 to PC makers, according to posts on online forums, which means it's on track for a late 2012 release. Windows 8 is a big deal for Microsoft because it will have special features for tablets -- it will be the first version of the full Windows desktop OS to run on the low-powered ARM processors used in most tablets, and will have a design that works better on touch screens."

Am I crazy, or does Windows 7 still feel "new"? I guess after the massive, painful gap between Windows XP and Windows Vista, anything faster than that is going to feel a bit different - though Windows 7 couldn't come fast enough after Vista. I didn't hate Vista like some people did, but I knew Windows 7 was going to fix a lot of the rough edges around Vista, so I was keenly looking forward to it. Windows 8 coming in late 2012 or 2013 makes sense; Windows 7 came out in October of 2009, so late 2012 would make it three years. Windows 7 is an excellent operating system; I wonder what improvements Windows 8 will bring to the table beyond the tablet improvements? I'm still extremely reluctant to believe that Microsoft can implement a touch-based UI that doesn't feel tacked on. Guess we'll see!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Why Microsoft Can't Build a Tablet and Apple Can't Build a Server

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Laptop Thoughts Talk" @ 11:00 PM

"Last week I was going over a rather impressive list of products that Microsoft (News - Alert) brought to market last decade that failed and while Apple's (News - Alert) list is shorter the failure of its Xserve server product after a decade of trying is just as telling. In looking at the two companies; both have largely been unable, at least for the last 10 years, to do well in areas dominated by the other."

Interesting thoughts on why companies with expertise in specific market segments are having trouble gaining a foothold in other market segments. Not only Microsoft and Apple, but companies like IBM and Cisco are having trouble in the consumer space, while Sony has failed at getting their business products accepted. Companies are committing resources, but not necessarily the right resources. Microsoft designing a product (Zune) that "looked like a square turd" is a good example of perhaps the right product being designed by the wrong people. And Apple's XServe is another example of a failed attempt. So, how can companies be successful in new market segments? First rule: Know your target market. Second rule: Get the right people for the job. Don't just assign someone based on seniority or past glory in other market segments. Third rule: Don't underestimate the amount of work and capital that it will take to successfully bring a product to market. Last rule: Understand your goal. If you don't understand what it is, or how to get there, you lose.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Behold The Future! Behold Internet Explorer 9!

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 01:00 PM

"By any objective standard, Microsoft has succeeded at the task it set out to do: build a fast, standards-compliant browser with a clean, modern design that integrates well with Windows 7. But is that enough to preserve its shrinking lead in an increasingly competitive field of browsers? Can it convince defectors to end their experiments with Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox and return to the fold?"

The browser wars continue and Microsoft is still making strides to make sure it stays relevant in today's digital marketplace. With it now being much closer to standards compliant, it almost seems to me as if browsers have become utilitarian, or almost a commodity. Allowing for minor quirks, websites seem to work in most browsers without a hitch. Considering the trend towards mobility these days, I think that rendering speed and battery saving features (like hardware acceleration) have become the most important on a technical level though it looks as if everyone is already addressing that.

What will make any browser stand out over any other is likely to be the feel and customizability. I have seen people very used to a particular pattern on how to do things (I am victim to that myself) so any straying from a rhythm I am used to is bound to make me feel uncomfortable. What it likely comes down to is that the only reason Internet Explorer could remain dominant is because it being a "default" choice for Windows computers. With that market also diminishing, it looks like it looks like IE9 is made to stay competitive, not on the top.

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